Saturday, December 03, 2011

Kate's Final Entry as the 2011 Scholarship Winner

Girls With Wings, Inc., would like to thank Kate for exceeding our expectations as the 2011 scholarship winner. From her application to this final essay submission, she has been prompt, thorough and accurate in fulfilling the requirements of the GWW scholarship. We look forward to her continued participation as a Girls With Wings role model. Great job, Kate!

This past month Ohio offered its share of challenges in regards to seasonal transitions.  Anyone from Northeast Ohio knows what I am talking about.  We get lake effect snow in April, summer temperatures in November, and then there are the pesky winds which seem like they will never go away.  With all the maintenance issues I had in the Ercoupe, the Skycatcher has provided a new skill set and experience using rudder pedals.  The problem with the last month though was rain cancelling my lessons, wind cancelling my lessons, poor visibility cancelling my lessons… you get the picture. 

Last week I took another half-day off work, woke up to check the weather and yet again it looked like I would be buying time to get my third cancellation notice in a week.  Between working two jobs, I was not looking forward to wasting a half day and my frustration was settling in.  Determined not to let a chance go by I drove out to the airport anyway, knowing that at least if I got there before cancelling I gave every bit of persistence I could for the week.  Surprisingly though, during the fifteen minute drive, the closer I got the more the weather cleared.  I was actually going to get a lesson in.

When we got in the plane and I started taxiing, suddenly the struggle of using rudder pedals over the last few weeks seemed to be lifting.  How to manage the plane on take-offs and landings kept getting better with each approach.  The rain stayed north of the field and the winds were remaining consistent.  It was the first time since switching aircraft that I saw a huge return in my confidence level.  On the last approach, Ron directed us south of the field to a clearer area where we could get up above the clouds.  All of a sudden I was above all the dreary weather that had been in my way the whole month and the view was breathtaking.  I got to spend twenty minutes just playing up above the clouds and it was an experience I so needed when I didn’t even know it. 

Since winning the 2011 GWW Scholarship I have learned so much.  I know that when facing obstacles, if you are truly passionate about what you are going after, then an obstacle is merely a small bump in the destination.  Most importantly though, I learned and remembered what it is like to play.  I could list a hundred reasons why learning how to fly is beneficial in any aspect of life, but when it comes down to it, flying is a chance to get up above the clouds with the sun shining and play. 

Without this scholarship I would have definitely had to put training on hold.  When my Dad’s Ercoupe failed on me, I had to switch aircraft which more than doubled my training costs and face the possibility of having to retake my written exam with the expiration date looming this upcoming April.  I have a great deal of gratitude because the GWW scholarship gave me the opportunity to make my way through some tough financial decisions over the last month.    

One of the things that really sticks with me about GWW is the phrase “Girls need flight plans, not Fairy Tales.”  I am guilty of it myself, but I notice that women tend to attribute our successes to luck.  Through all the mishaps with the Ercoupe, I can’t tell you the sighs I have gotten or the pity talks about my lack of luck.   People have discussed my plane almost like a tragedy case and I was a victim of its problems.  But when talking with all the instructors, we would discuss how helpful it is that I now have actual background in dealing with emergency procedures.  We even joke that after seeing my airplane torn apart so many times that I might as well go get my A&P certification.  What I attribute to my success at each step is not reacting to the obstacle, but working with it. 

I sincerely hope that when I get my license shortly, I can share flying outside of my local airport community and stay involved with GWW.  More often than not when I tell my female friends or family members about aviation, they are genuinely interested.  They just have not been introduced to the fact that there are women pilots.  The first thing I hear is, “That is so great, but I couldn’t do that”.  My goal is to instead hear the phrase “I could do that”.  When I get my license and as soon as I am comfortable, I plan to take as many friends and family flying that are willing.  It is not about trying to make them see why I love what I am pursuing, but simply for the fact that without exposure to new experiences, we can limit what we are actually capable of without knowing it.

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