Laura Mayo: A Lover of All Things That Fly

laura mayo pilot
Laura Mayo has always been interested in flying, and was finally able to make the commitment to train full-time at ATP’s Nashville facility.Laura Mayo

Laura Mayo is a lover of all things that fly, especially airplanes. “I have devoted most of my education and field experience to birds, and now I get to fly with them,” she says. Mayo earned a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences from Oregon State University in 2017, and has worked and volunteered in this field since she was in high school.

Mayo and her husband, Allen, were married in 2012, and currently live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Last year, he gave her a discovery flight in a Cessna 172 as a Valentine’s Day gift, and she decided to take it to the next level. “Although no one in my family flies professionally, I just learned a couple of weeks ago that my uncle and my grandfather had taken lessons at some point in their life, and my father has always loved planes,” she says. “I think the combination of a love of travel and the desire for a job that was nonconventional was appealing to me.”

laura mayo pilot
Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences from Oregon State University in 2017, and has worked and volunteered in this field since she was in high school.Laura Mayo

Mayo says her husband was her greatest influence when choosing a career in aviation. “He’s in the Army, and we move quite a bit for his job, so it was difficult for me to have a career of my own with some semblance of a home life in the industry I was in before. So I thought and researched for about a year before finally committing. He has been the best support system I could have ever asked for.”

She is currently a student at ATP’s Nashville location and is most of the way through her program, having earned her commercial pilot certificate on June 5. She will begin the CFI training program in early July, and hopes to begin instructing later this year.

“I chose ATP because I trusted the program and liked the pace of it,” she says. “We all have a common goal of getting a job, so the faster we can do it, and do it well, the better. I remember my first day at ATP, I learned that several students’ parents flew for major airlines, and that’s when I felt reassured of my decision to be at this school. If they would send their kids here, I want to be here too.”

laura mayo pilot
Laura is currently a student at ATP’s Nashville location, having earned her commercial pilot certificate on June 5.Laura Mayo

Mayo says the greatest challenge for her has been the fast pace of the training, but that ATP provides her with an excellent support system while she’s learning. “I have been fortunate enough to train at a really great center, surrounded by amazing people from different backgrounds and walks of life, and at an awesome airport that I have come to call my second home,” she says. “Two years ago, I would not have seen myself in flight school, but here we are. I would love to work for Delta, UPS, or a state or federal agency doing wildlife surveys or transports.”

Her aviation “bucket list” also includes flying across the United States and visiting all the national parks, and one day having an opportunity to fly a DC-3.

What advice would she give to someone considering a career in aviation today? “I would tell them to go for it,” she says. “It’s a big leap, expensive and a lot of work, but it’s absolutely worth it! The people are great, and so is flying. Don’t be scared to push yourself; you will be surprised at what you can accomplish.”