So, you want to be a pilot?
This week, in honor of Girls in Aviation Day, I want to share some thoughts on being a woman aviator.
If you're looking to become a pilot, or if you're looking for some guidance in your career, I’ve put together some info for you that I wish someone had shared with me very early on in my journey towards my dream of becoming an aviator.
Find your Tribe:
In the early years of my journey, I found my tribe at Daniel Webster College and the airports I worked at to gain access to all that I could. I took part-time jobs operating the desk at various FBOs or flight schools. I washed airplanes for bartered flight time and even worked the ramp at an airport in the United Kingdom, refueling aircraft and moving passengers. Those jobs always lead me to meeting new people that could help me learn more, or to internships and some real flight experience!
Today, my tribe consists of stay at home moms and caregivers, people in recovery, leaders in various industries, educators and innovators, storytellers, and pilots. I'm grateful for that truth.
There’s a beauty in life in the air. And something to be said about the act of piloting. It holds the aviator in a tight grip of extreme focus, grounded contentment, and pure joy. Nothing has ever come close to that feeling for me. Flying is much like moving meditation: Complete balance. My mind becomes entirely quiet, a Practice. I’ve always kept that innate focus on flying in my consciousness. What's your big dream? It might help to name it and speak it into the Universe over and over. Revisit your vision during trying times.
Progress is Not Always Linear:
Progress, for me, is measured not only by traditional success but also in the impact I can make for others. When I leave the flight deck, did I leave the people I came across in a better place than I found them? Maybe yes, and perhaps no. Sometimes all I can do is the next right thing. Small successes create real momentum!
You also don't have to know already what you're doing when you start flying! You're not supposed to. It's OK to learn, and it's OK to fail. And when you fail, and you're going to, and you want to quit, I give you permission to retire; for the night. But rejoin your passion tomorrow. Get up, dust those beautiful shoulders off, and Slay!
Putting one foot in front of the other has truly gotten me to where I am today: Captain. Mother. Wife. Friend. Mentor. Advocate.
Also, everything happens in its own time. I would not have continued flying if I compared my success' on others' pace in life. And if all of that doesn't work, sometimes it helps to breathe.
If I were to advise any girls (or women!) interested in aviation, it would be to follow that little voice! It knows your life's journey, mamma! For me, it’s called Intuition: It speaks in different ways. When in doubt, have an open mind. Say “yes” to an opportunity even when you’re afraid of failure. And know that even if people don’t talk about it, everyone has fear. It's a natural human emotion. When I realized that, I was freed from a lot of self-judgment when it came to my career.
Eleanor Roosevelt loved aviation: In fact, she flew with Amelia Earhart several times. Madam Roosevelt has a quote I love:
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I lived through that horror. I can take the next thing that comes along."
Follow Your Gut:
My gut has gotten me a brilliant and colorful life with amazing people. I have degrees, both undergrad and grad, and traveled the world. I lived abroad. I have flown uncommon fast jets. I've helped people. I have received love and kindness like you can't even imagine. Given love and compassion. Met Guru's, famous people, political leaders. I had to learn how to believe in myself when my colleagues didn't. And speaking my truth is one of the best gifts this life has given me. Aviation taught me how to feel good about me in my belly. No one can ever take that away. All of this is true, and yet I have still failed more spectacularly than I have ever succeeded. But I have never regretted following my gut.
Anytime I ever saw a pilot portrayed on television, he was a middle-aged man with a fancy uniform and, at that time, a mustache. He was always walking with three ridiculously slender female cabin attendants gawking over him or at the controls of the airplane handling some crazy emergency, sitting next to another man talking on the radios. I never knew any female pilots. Did they even exist? They do, friend.
As I continued walking in my path, I also learned that I don’t have to be someone else to fit into the outdated pilot mold. And I don’t have to be perfect. I can be silly, goofy, warm, friendly, and still be a badass pilot. Early in my career, I had men say things like, "I didn't really think you'd be this good." Or they’d key on the mike “Empty Kitchen!” when I was on the radios. That stuff used to own me. It does not anymore. If anyone ever tries to define your Light by their own biases, you do NOT have to allow it. It's not real anyway. Use your voice. It’s powerful.
Today, I know pilots who wear their hair down, painted nails, high heels, and makeup to fly airplanes and those that also prefer cowboy boots and a bun. Remember that idea of the pilot I had earlier in my journey? He's not the only pilot around anymore. You can be JUST WHO YOU’VE COME TO BE as a pilot. You will flourish the most as just You. Trust me.
My promise to you is that I will do my level best to leave this industry better than I found it. I want all of you to be free to follow your dreams, experience incredible success, and live your life confident in your skin.
If you have questions or get stuck, please feel free to reach out!
Founder & President