All posts tagged 'Women in Aviation'

Confessions of a Student Pilot

Over the past 5 years I have more than earned my right to be called a student pilot. Between when I was 12 years old and now I have attended 3 different flight schools, passed my FAA Written Exam twice, and been lightheartedly made fun of by CFIs for rookie mistakes countless times. It’s been said that it’s about the journey, not the destination, and this rings incredibly true in the world of aviation. I have learned more about life and passion through aerospace than I ever learned in my standard high school curriculum. I have been taught discipline, self-control, dedication, logical thinking... All through my experiences in chasing my dream of becoming a pilot.

I hope to help other student pilots remember why they are doing this. It can be such a challenge to continue training when you feel you are stuck in a rut, or you will never achieve the dream that we all chase after. I have compiled a few observations or "confessions," if you will, that have stuck out to me during my journey. A few come with stories, a few are simply food for thought. Here are my confessions of a student pilot.

Keep your training consistent. This may seem obvious, but it keeps many student pilots from advancing quickly enough to reach their full potential. It is far better to wait and save up enough money for a flight lesson every week or so than to attend your flight school sporadically. For the first 3 years of my training I could only afford one lesson every month (between allowance and babysitting money that wasn’t too bad!) If I could go back and do it again, I would have saved up for a year or so and had lessons sequentially in just a couple months. In having to wait, I kept relearning the same concepts every month and was nowhere near reaching my full potential.

Don’t be scared to be assertive. On June 19th, 2013 I was on a routine flight with my instructor, going around the traffic pattern at Capital City airport. As my instructor continually pointed out, I was spending too much time with my eyes glued to the instrument panel and not enough time looking outside. As I turned for my downwind leg, he held a sheet of paper over the instrument panel to stop my nervous eyes from glancing inside too much. I huffed a bit, then began making a call to other traffic that I was on downwind. "Capital City traffic, Cessna -" my heart sank. I hadn’t memorized our tail number yet and the sheet of paper was obscuring my view of it. Without skipping a beat, I forcefully moved (read: slapped) my instructor’s hand out of the way, read the tail number off, and finished my radio call. I immediately felt bad and apologized for what I had done, but I had never seen my instructor so thrilled. "That’s what I’m talking about! THAT was a pilot in command move. If you know what you need to do, don’t ask my permission." The very next day I was endorsed and did my first solo flight. Which is the perfect segway into my next point...

Your solo IS as big of a deal as everyone says. Let’s say you have comprehended enough knowledge to safely takeoff and land an aircraft, and your instructor has enough faith in your abilities to let you do it completely by yourself. Congratulations, it’s time to fly solo! The whole ordeal in and of itself isn’t a big change from your previous lessons, as you have probably done exactly the same routine of taking off and landing many times before your instructor steps out. The real value and importance of a solo isn’t in the fact that there is one less passenger, it is that YOU are now the pilot in command. According to Federal Aviation Regulation 91.3, "The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft." You are now the CEO head honcho in charge of all aspects of safely executing your current flight mission. The boost of confidence that a student pilot gains after safely landing their first solo flight is astronomical. Celebrate this accomplishment and truly think about what it means to now be the pilot in command.

Networking is everything. I am a first-generation pilot. Nobody in my family has any ties to aviation, besides a strange obsession with warbirds my father and grandfather share. When I first started my flight training I felt like a very tiny fish in a very huge pond. All that I knew was that becoming a pilot was extremely expensive, difficult, and overwhelming... but that I absolutely could not live my life without doing it. I had not met a single female pilot in my first two years of training, but I knew they had to be out there. I began doing google searches, talking to family friends, and subscribed to seven different flight magazines in an attempt to gain an understanding of the general aviation community as a whole. Through a family friend I came in contact with a female UPS pilot, and she introduced me to the Ninety-Nines. From there I learned about Women in Aviation, AOPA, EAA, NBAA, all of these crazy acronyms which represented different organizations in the aviation community. I have met tons of interesting people who have taken a genuine interest in my future as a pilot, and I have learned so much about the different pathways that are available to me in the aerospace industry. Having a good network to support you is incredibly important for an aspiring pilot.

Do not give up. The most important "confession" I have for fellow student pilots is to not give up, no matter how difficult it becomes. Keep trying. Stay motivated. There have been times in my training where I have been completely overwhelmed and felt very unsure as to whether or not I would actually achieve my dreams. When this happens, I like to take a step back and evaluate what really draws me to aviation in the first place. I watch episodes of The Aviators, or read aviation literature and really soak in the pure beauty and freedom that a pilot can obtain. The challenge is half the fun, however daunting it may seem. I encourage all student pilots to really think about what keeps them going and to cling to it until they finally reach the day of achieving their ultimate goals.

Amelia Earhart Plane May Have Been Discovered Behind My Barbeque

Possible manmade parts found that might have been part of Amelia’s aircraft’s landing gear.

Article By Robert Goyer / Published: Aug 20, 2012
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It’s very possible that the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E has been at long last located. Objects that might well be part of the wreckage were spotted recently in the bushes behind my barbeque in Austin, Texas, a location where searchers had not previously focused their efforts. “We thought we might have been closing in on the wreckage, but until we spotted what can only be described as a small but curious debris field right off the edge of the deck, we weren’t sure we were looking in the right place,” said the leader of the Austin expedition, which is, er, me.

The exact location of the wreckage of Earhart’s plane has long been a mystery. The pilot, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared more than 75 years ago on one of the last legs of the pair’s round-the-world journey. There have long been theories as to what happened to the doomed flight—some even suggested that Earhart had been taken prisoner by the Japanese and held in captivity for years after the crash. And at least one team of searchers has been making regular visits to the South Pacific in search of the wreckage.

It wasn’t until last week, however, that I spotted the evidence myself in my backyard, inexplicably right behind the Kenmore grill. Previous searches had focused in vain on the herb garden to the west of the house, before I shifted my attention to the back of the house, theorizing that shifting winds might have taken the flight in that direction.

Until last year Austin, Texas, had not been considered a likely candidate to find the wreckage. After all, it is many thousands of miles east of where Earhart’s plane was presumed to have run out of fuel, and in order for the flight to have reached Austin, it would have had to have flown over parts of the North American continent for half a day, indeed for days after it should have run out of fuel. Fortunately, however, members of the search team were not thrown off by the seeming inconsistencies of the search effort and continued working to find some evidence.

That evidence, pictured above, might possibly be the red plastic dog bowl that Earhart or Noonan had onboard with them. There has long been talk of a dog and the red plastic bowl by islanders who are no longer around to confirm or deny such reports. Either that or it might be part of the landing gear. It’s probably part of the landing gear.

Before the wreckage could be recovered, cloudy weather and dinner forced the search team to return to base. It’s not clear when they will have another opportunity to return to explore the possible debris field, though donations, a spokesman said, would help. Benefactors are currently being sought to allow searchers to procure supplies, chiefly beer but steaks too, to enable a return expedition soon.

2011 should be a year of celebration for the ladies among us


August 2011 will be the 100th Anniversary of the first U.S. woman to qualify as an aviator. Ms. Harriet Quimby was her name, and she was a photojournalist from San Francisco, California. After being assigned by a weekly journal to cover the Belmont Park (New York) International Aviation Tournament for a feature story, like many of us today, Harriet immediately became smitten by aviation, and soon started taking flying lessons.

Ms. Quimby is not credited with being the first women in the world to receive her pilot’s licence - this place in history went to the French aviatrix Baroness de la Roche, a little over a year before Harriet made the history books in this country. Ms. Quimby is still a strong beacon to women who decide to follow a path into aviation either as a sport, or as a career.

On August 1st, 1911, pilot certificate number 37 was awarded by the Aero Club of America to Ms. Quimby. She was the second female pilot in the world, and the first in the United States.

After demonstrating her skills as an aviator across the U.S. to inspire other women to learn to fly, she attempted to make history again by becoming the first women to fly across the English Channel borrowing an aircraft from the famed Louis Bleriot, who had first claimed the title of World’s First ‘Cross Channel Pilot’ earlier in 1909. She is also credited with being the first women to have ever flown at night.

Unfortunately Ms. Quimby’s career was short lived. This inspirational lady pilot had a fatal mishap during a demonstration flight over Boston Harbour in July of 1912, when she and her passenger fell from their aircraft (they probably were not strapped-in) while circling the Boston Lighthouse. Her momentous career as one of the most famous lady pilots came to an end after only eleven months of flying as a pilot in-command.

Since Ms. Quimby was the first women to set foot on the new aviation pathway, thousands of women have followed her footsteps and made their own way in history. Some of the most notable ladies include: Ruth Law, Marjorie Stinson, Mary Riddle, Florence Lowe ‘Pancho’ Barnes, Amelia Earhart, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Ruth Nichols, Helen Richey, Willa Brown, Bessie Coleman, Beryl Markham, Elinor Smith, Jacqueline Cochran, Nancy Harkness Love, Emily Howell Warner, Mary Barr, Sally Murphy, Lynn Rippelmeyer, Beverly Burns, Jeana Yeager, Jackie Parker, and Patty Wagstaff to name a few.100th Anniversary of the first U.S. woman to qualify as an aviator.

Since women started flying 100 years ago, they have always had to jump more hurdles than men, in their quest to become career aviators. Much of this is due to sexism. Obviously like any other minority in an industry, women in aviation have often associated with other women of their like-mind, and therefore several organizations have been formed to help connect the dots between all aviatrixes. The most famous female aviation organization remains the ‘Ninety-Nines’, so named  because at the very first meeting of this long-standing and successful organization in 1929, 99 licensed lady pilots were in attendance.


Other organizations, groups, associations and historical societies specific to the role of women in aviation that have also been formed over the past 100 years include: Women in Corporate Aviation, Women in Aviation International, Women in Aviation Maintenance, Girls With Wings, International Aviation Women’s Association, International Women’s Air and Space Museum, Women Airforce Service Pilots Collection, The Arizona Ruth Reinhold Collection, The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, The Dwight D. Eisenhower Library – Jacqueline Cochran Collection, NASA Oral History Project: Aviatrix Pioneers, Women in Aviation Club, Memphis Belles Organization, The Women Fly Project, ALPA: Cleared to Dream-Women in Aviation, Aviation and Women in Europe, The Leadership Development For Women In Aviation In Africa, WomenVenture, The Harriet Quimby Research Centre, Professional Women Controllers, Women Soaring Pilots Association, Association of Flight Attendants, Australian Women Pilots Association, British Women Pilots Association, Clipped Wings, International Society of Women Airline Pilots, Japan Women’s Association of Aeronautics, National Sundowners, New Zealand Association of Women in Aviation, Technical Women’s Organization, The International Forest of Friendship, The Jerrie Cobb Foundation, The Mercury 13, TWA Clipped Wings, Whirly Girls, Women in the Military, and Women Military Aviators.

I can honestly say that from my personal experience, lady pilots are the best pilots that I have ever flown with, or have been flown by. The usual pushback that most women experience when pursuing a professional career in aviation, is in my mind both archaic, and embarrassing. So much so, that I joined and am a member of Women In Corporate Aviation, so I can try and be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem, that most lady aviators face. This new year of 2011 is an ideal opportunity for all us to be mindful of female aviators, and to salute all Aviatrix-minded women, and if we can, to also give them a helpful push in the right direction. I raise my glass and toast you all, especially Ms. Quimby who started it all in this great country, the U.S.A.

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