I feel very fortunate for the fact that I have been able to go through my aviation training and career thus far with one of my closest friends. In fact, she and her family played a large role in getting me out to the airport & around GA after hearing I was interested in learning how to fly.
My friend, Scottie, and I became friends our freshman year of high school through mutual friends. We quickly learned we share a similar background: both of our dads were pilots for the same airline.
Scottie was nearing her private pilot check ride when I expressed how neat it was that she was learning how to fly. She immediately started encouraging me to take lessons, too. At first, I was hesitant. After all, it was her thing, right? Instead, Scottie reassured me. Flying could be both of our things! The next thing I know, I was at the airport with Scottie getting ready for my discovery flight in one of her family friend’s AirCam.
This was only the beginning.
A short year later, we started the college search. Scottie grew up an Auburn fan and had deep ties, as her dad and uncle went through the flight program years prior. Scottie and her family graciously extended an invite to my family to tour Auburn’s aviation program with them, and in six months, we were driving into town together for freshman orientation.
From instrument to CFII, we were always working on the same ratings and certificates at the same time. We had our ground schools together, and we even had our flight blocks at the same time. Each check ride we took was within months of each other.
I feel very fortunate to have an unconditional friend to navigate the industry with. We have cried together, laughed together, worried together, and celebrated together. Ultimately, we have supported each other.
Because of this genuine friendship, I have succeeded far more than I would have alone. We are each other’s biggest advocates, and we want to see each other succeed. We know that when one of us achieves something, we are better equipped to help the other get to their respective next step.
Unfortunately, this is not standard across the industry. I have heard some of the most disheartening things said about women in the industry from other women.
There is a misconception that there is only room for one woman in a given flight department or group, creating the notion that one woman is going to have to fight to get there at the cost of other women.
If women can’t even support other women, how can we start expecting the other 93% of the industry to support us?
When a female advances, it’s an advancement for all females. Additionally, women that get into the industry before us can become a voice for us and represent our needs.
The industry already can feel alienating at times, and we can help diminish that feeling by supporting each other. Having someone who understands the position you are in can help morale tremendously. Even further, it can help inspire the next generation of female pilots.
To Scottie - thanks for always cheering me on! I’m glad we get to navigate through this rewarding career together. Can’t wait for our next adventure
If you have a fellow female pilot that inspires you, I’d love to hear about their stories/your friendship in the comments below!
Mattie is a CFI/CFII and a Graduate Research Assistant at Auburn University, where she is pursuing an M.Ed. in Adult Education. She enjoys drinking her morning coffee, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.