Getting Support

In last week's Flying newsletter, our editor-in-chief Robert Goyer wrote about a study that AOPA conducted to find out why a staggering number of student pilots drop out prior to completing their license. It found that, in making the decision to continue flight training, the quality of instruction and sense of community were more important than the lack of the necessary funding. The second reason struck home with me since I had just returned from the Women in Aviation, International (WAI) annual conference in Reno, Nevada.

During my time as a student pilot, I did a lot of research into different flying related organizations. Being short on funds, my main focus at the time was finding money, and I found that there were many scholarships out there for people like me. The local Ninety-Nines chapter had a Private Pilot License scholarship. I was fortunate to receive a few hundred dollars after I completed my solo flight and upon completion of my license.

But the benefit I got from the Ninety-Nines chapter reached way beyond the dollars. I attended the monthly meetings, and the women in the chapter were very encouraging. It was wonderful to have a forum to go to with questions, or just sharing fun things that had happened during my training.

I also joined WAI early on in my training and applied for a scholarship, put on by AOPA Flight Training Magazine at the time, to attend the organization’s annual conference in Memphis in 2000. I was one of two lucky winners who received an all expenses paid trip to attend the event.

The experience was a true eye-opener for me. Even though I had traveled extensively on the airlines for years, I had never seen a female airline pilot. But at this show, there were literally hundreds of epaulet-decorated women. I met several women, much younger than I, who were interviewing for jobs at the show, and some who won scholarships worth thousands of dollars for type-ratings.

Everyone at the show was extremely encouraging. I befriended several women all over the United States and Canada, and I left Memphis with a renewed motivation to finish my ratings.

My biggest obstacle in beginning my training to become a pilot was the lack of a role model. I had never met a female aviator. In fact I had never even heard of women pilots. This was the time before the era of the Internet, so the option to google “female pilot” did not exist. To experience first hand that there were that many women doing what I wanted to do was incredibly inspiring.

So, thank you, Ninety-Nines and WAI. There is no doubt that there are many, many women like me out there who may have never completed their ratings without the support, encouragement and scholarships that are available through these organizations.

And for you women and men who are passionate about flying, but are have an obstacle that prevents you from beginning or continuing your training, I encourage you to join an organization. Find a group that you can relate to. In my case it was women, for you it may be an organization such as the Young Eagles if you're a young aviator, or EAA if your passion is building airplanes and flying them, or the Deaf Pilots Association if you're hearing impaired. With a support network of people who have had the same blocks to achieving their goals as you, you're more likely to succeed.

Flying Magazine is a one-stop resource for everything aviation, including news, training, aircraft, gear, careers, photos, videos, and more.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter