Thursday, December 03, 2009

Part 3 of Changing Gender Stereotypes

Seriously, I receive some of the most wonderful emails. I just have to share this one with you because I think it is a great example to balance out the previous posts about perceived gender differences and attitudes in the cockpit. As I have said before, I have some personal experiences with some of the best male co-pilots ever and then some not so nice. Even the younger guys who you would expect to be more "enlightened" can be a woman's worst critic (just ask the guy trying to get into an airline's new hire class and hear his complaint about how "that one woman" took his spot - ignoring the other larger number of male pilots who beat him out). To have an older guy 1. show this kind of insight and fairness and 2. take the time to write me about it, is pretty darn cool in my book, er, ...uh, blog.

(I only did a slight bit of editing punctuation-wise.)


I have followed you and GWW for over a year and really enjoyed your efforts and the blog stories.

I read with interest your latest comments on the Gender thing and females in the cockpit or for that matter, even on the airport, as anything but the "Gal behind the desk."

Having been around the patch a few times in aviation and, yes, from the old school of many moons ago, the changes for women have been a hard fought road in aviation. I am from the days of being in the cockpit and hearing a female voice on center freq and all the comments from the guys about, "another empty kitchen." I have flown with female FO's and have found over all that they are on the same line, ability wise, as the males that hold down the seat cushion in the right seat. Pilots are people and it does not make any difference to the airplane if it is being flown by a guy or a gal. I have had one female F/O that was not worth a hoot but I have had several males that were even worse. Yet I have flown with female pilots that were way above average. So what does it come down tooooo....ATTITUDE!!!

I know what it is like to get a phone call at night and listen to a friend that is an A&P and working as a line mechanic at a very well known LARGE flight school in Florida and listen, console, give advice, and yes, even say "Hang in there," after she went through a day of "girls should not bend wrenches." But on the same side I have had the call from her the first time she was getting ready to fly her first IFR night flight by herself and she just wanted to hear someone say...."the airplane does not know if it is day, night, VFR, or IFR so just get in and fly it." That same person also called on the day she was to take her ATP and Dash 8-400 sim check and we spent 30 minutes on the phone as she paced the parking lot before the check ride. But 3 hours later I got the call that made my day. "Well, they took away my instrument rating". And you know what that means on the ATP checkride.

[An ATP, or Airline Transport Pilot rating, is more advanced than an instrument rating. It's like saying you have your doctorate; you don't need to also say you have your master's degree. It's understood.]

I am 110% for anyone that wants to make aviation their choice, male or female. You're right that attitudes do change and as you know it takes time for some changes. I worked for a cargo airline that had the first all female flight crew on a L-382, (civil version of the C-130), and we also had two female 707 captains.

Just want to add that I think what you are doing is a labor of both love for aviation and also for the younger girls that want to experience what we have both seen and done in airplanes.

Keep up the good work and maybe sometime we will be on the same ramp somewhere and get to meet.


...Could not have said it better myself! Thanks, Walt, and everyone else for keeping the discussion balanced and on-going.