We’ve all seen articles of why people should pursue their pilot’s certificate, and all the reasons the provide from not being required to go through TSA or security checks to having the ability to fly anywhere are great and for the most part, true. However, when I read these articles, I somehow get the feeling that they are, unconsciously, targeting men. Now, granted not a single article has said only men can fly, but, because the FAA estimates that only about 6-10% of the over 650,000 certificated pilots in the United States are men, it’s not a far stretch to imagine that they are targeting men. And when we look at pictures of pilots, or even imagine pilots, they tend to be men. As a woman student pilot, I have to ask why is that? Why are we women made to feel like we shouldn’t be pilots. Well, there’s the sexism that still exists. Not from male pilots, mind you. In fact, some of my best cheerleaders are male pilots over women! No, the sexism comes from, believe it or not, the general public. Just recently, a male passenger wrote a horrible note to the pilot of his aircraft, who was a woman. In this day and age where women are police officers, firefighters, paramedics, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, doing jobs that were, until the last 40-50 years were dominated by men but now very commonplace, it shocks me to think that people seem to think its okay for the most part for us to put our lives on the line, but not pilot your aircraft? Why is this?
Do they think we’re not smart enough? I assure you, we are. For crying out loud, we hold PhDs and even MDs. We’re engineers and scientists, business moguls and CEOs. Do they think we can’t handle mechanical equipment? Again, we have women who are mechanics, airframe and powerplant technicians, in fact, I’ve had the honor of meeting one who is 90 years old and still at it! Whatever the reason, if you’re a woman and you’ve never considered a pilot’s certificate, here are some reasons to consider obtaining one:
- 1) Freedom: As often pointed out, provided you have the correct certificate you’re pretty much free to go just about anywhere you can land! Be it an airport, as is the case with fixed wing aircraft or the middle of nowhere, as can be the case with rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft. With a pilot’s certificate, you have the ability to visit places you may not be able to using commercial air transportation or even a car.
- 2) Control: Imagine being the one to be in control of where you want to go and what you want to do? Being the one who gets to make the decision to do what you want?
- 3) Emotion: There is nothing quite like the feeling of flying. Of being several thousand feet above the ground and seeing for what seems like forever! Flying can almost make you feel like you are a part of something much larger than yourself! Being able to see for miles and miles, is a feeling that is difficult to put into words. Not to mention, it puts you in control of your destiny.
- 4) Inspiration: As a woman who can fly an aircraft, you become the inspiration for other women and girls to chase their dreams! Even boys learn that they can do anything they put their minds to. I can’t tell you how often I get girls and boys alike who look at me with awe when I tell them I can pilot an aircraft. And then I tell them that they can do the same thing, if that’s what they want. There is no better feeling in the world than to have a person look up to you and think, “If she can do it, then so can I!”
- 5) Career: If you’re a person looking for a unique career, well, then flying can be it! There aren’t a lot of pilots who fly for pay and while the starting salaries can be low, the rewards can be big!
- 6) Calmness: How often do we have stress make our lives miserable? Pretty much everyday. But, with flying you get a double reward in this arena. First, once you get up there, you realize how peaceful it is! Yes, flying can be stressful, but once you learn how properly, everything you do becomes second nature and you can learn to appreciate the peace! Second, it teaches you how to deal with multiple tasks simultaneously and how to handle emergencies with grace and calm.
- 7) Comraderie: Pilots, male and female, have a unique bond! We’re a part of a select few people and women pilots, in particular, are very supportive of each other. But, at the same time, while in some professions women are discouraged by men from pursuing the field, in aviation, because we all understand the amazing feelings that are invoked just by flying, men tend to become some of our greatest supporters. I can honestly say that I’ve had more male pilots support and egg me on in aviation, then in any other field and I’ve served as a firefighter and in EMS.
- 8) Ability to Help: As women, many of us have this innate desire to help others, but, not all of us can be nurses or teachers or even mothers. Yet, we still have a desire to do something good for others. Flying gives us a great way to do that. From becoming a search and rescue pilot to flying sick children or even adults to medical treatment to transporting dogs to new homes, we have an amazing ability to provide help others. We can even still be teachers by introducing people to aviation and the amazing world it opens up.
Before you say, but, I can’t fly? Sit down and remember, women can save lives, put out fires, take care of the house, handle sick men (we all know how hard that one is.) and even solve the mysteries of the universe. So, flying, well, darlin’ that’s easy! Take a chance and go to your local flight school and take a $99 discovery flight. For more information about flight schools, visit the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association website: www.aopa.org. Talk to other female pilots and some great organizations for that include: Women in Aviation International : www.wai.org or the Ninety-nines, an organization that was founded with assistance from Amelia Earhart at www.ninety-nines.org.