Saturday, January 02, 2010

Should that be "Life on the ROPES as a Pilot?"

For those readers of this blog that haven't heard yet: I am going to be furloughed this month from NetJets. Boo. I am completely bummed about this because I do believe that NetJets is about the best flying job out there to be found (and I've been a military, commercial airline and fractional pilot). However, in addition to working my 7 day tours earning my living, Girls With Wings (which sucks that salary back out again) has always kept me so busy on my days "off" that after 7 days at home I was ready to go back to "work" flying my beloved Citation X.

Frankly, I'm pooped.

In a way this furlough is very timely. There is so much potential with Girls With Wings - now a non profit organization officially (though it hasn't made a dime in its six years anyway) with 501(c)(3) status pending (or at least whenever I can finish that bleeping IRS paperwork) that I can finally take advantage of!

And so, as of mid January, I will be shaking the trees to find sources of revenue for Girls With Wings in the form of grants, sponsorships and donations so I can pursue the many many ideas for GWW. Meanwhile, I have to also be covering my mortgage because very few people will give money to homeless people. I mean, they do... but panhandling has never been my forte.

And though I could try to find another job and still work on GWW in my spare time, I just don't see my being able to grow the organization - as the situation seems to demand. Already I think people may be getting frustrated with thinking about the mission of Girls With Wings: "using women in aviation to inspire girls to achieve their full potential," and think yeah, but HOW are you doing that? I know I do. So many ideas; so little time.

Already I have had some amazing women(and men) raise their hands to help out. Folks are compiling events for the Penelope Pilot Project and resources for the presentations, asking for scholarship donations, creating informational multi-media materials, writing for the new Penelope's Page, etc. I know people out there want to assist me in our mission, but it takes time for me to get them into a position to be able to do so. Hours that right now I don't have.

So, what am I going to do to keep Mr. Ci T. Mortgage off my case? Start flight instructing. Yeah, I know, I know. There's, like, NO money in instructing. Plus, you're talking to (or reading about) a woman who went right into the Army's Flight School and flew helos and King Airs for seven years. Then went right into the regional airlines flying Beech 1900s and then got jet jobs with Flight Options and NetJets. So even though I have approximately 5000hrs (time to update my logbook, I should think), I have barely any single engine time. And even less flying around the pattern, flight following, VFR cross-country time. Which is what I'm going to be instructing in. Ha.

I am a curious case for sure. Most people get their basic certificates: private, instrument, commercial, and then instruct til they can get an airline job. I've had the airline job, now I have to turn around and get training as a student pilot. No kidding. How in the heck am I going to land an airplane that can't fly as fast as the speed my current airplane lands at? Chandelles? Lazy 8s? Uh... what?

p.s. am totally NOT looking forward to spins again.

Luckily I met up today with a highly recommended local instructor who is willing to take on the challenge of teaching me. He also, strangely enough, has more confidence in me than I think healthy at this point. He has told me what to study and what written tests to take first. Then we'll start the flying portion in order to become a CFI: Certified Flight Instructor, CFII, a CFI that can train students in instruments, and MEI: a multi engine airplane instructor.

I am really excited at the prospect of being an instructor. I don't know how many students are available out there right now, but I think I will bring an unusual perspective to the syllabus. As a pilot who has been out there in the real world flying a variety of missions, I hope to be able to impart some insight to my students. And, truth be told, I'm a little rusty on some of the fundamentals. I could use a little refresher myself. And there's no better way to learn than to teach.

I'm sure some of you reading this are a bit confused by some of the terminology I have used. My goal is to bring you along as I go through my training so you will know by the time I get signed off. [Especially since I won't have stories of my jet-setting lifestyle for SOME time to come.] Then I can share my experiences of flight instructing, too. My deadline is set for May. That's a little vague, but I've got to figure out exactly how much I will be on the road the next few months to fit in the flight portions. I think May is completely reasonable to complete all my ratings. First I have to start studying for the writtens.

I'm also looking into ways to fund this training, which will probably cost about $2000. Some of my options appear to be 1. GI benefits (which I kinda think I'm not eligible for anymore) 2. State Unemployment Funds (I understand Ohio is not too willing to pay for pilot training since, obviously, aviation is not exactly a "growth industry" these days) 3. Sponsorship (from companies and organizations willing to do a little cross-promoting of getting more women interested in pursuing flight lessons).

If you're intrigued with any of this, please leave your comments, questions and suggestions on the blog. I would love to hear them because I would like to know what you'd like to hear about as well.

2010 is going to be great. Happy New Year!


  1. You're gonna do great, and I know I'm looking forward to helping your mission any way I can : )
    Happy New Year indeed!

  2. Amazing. I'm so excited for your furlough opportunity. I'll be following closely as it is something I'd love to do, but I'm unsure that I can step out of the box just yet with a 2 year old girl to raise. Maybe in another 3 years. In the meantime, I'll keep my ears and eyes open for anything to help boost Girls With Wings. Sympathies on your furlough, but congratulations on the new path.

  3. Roxanne7:57 AM

    Lynda, as a fellow Netjets woman pilot I wish you all the best and hope to see you returning to the line just as soon as possible! I am impressed with your background and ambition. As the scholarship chairman for our local Ninety-Nines chapter here in Tucson, I find the challenge of introducing women-young and old-to aviation to be incredibly rewarding, and I congratulate you on the "Girls With Wings" program! I too will keep my ears and eyes open for any help I can send your way. Have you thought about some sort of team effort with the 99s? All the best for a great 2010--Roxanne

  4. I'm curious to see how your transition to IP goes. Like you, I am a former Army aviator who never had to instruct for a living and now with 20,000 hours of experience (mostly in the Alaska bush)have decided I might have something to contribute to the new kids wanting to fly. Becoming a student again (to get the CFI)will be fun, I think, and having some real experience under your belt will make you a great instructor.

  5. MIKEL!! I have no idea when you posted on my blog, cause it only put time and not date and I have absolutely no hacker skills but....HI! I read my blog about as much as I update it. So, I like this reunion with Sharmistha and Danielle. There should be discussion...Skype maybe? Anyway..HI! I have to go or I would probably type a novel. This may get me junk mail or stalkers...but my email address is