Thursday, August 01, 2013

Caitlin, The Winner of a Dreams Take Flight Scholarship, Summer 2013!

We are so happy to announce the second winner for a 2013 Spring Scholarship Program: Caitlin Lyons!

The Girls With Wings Dreams Take Flight Scholarship is designed to introduce the world of aviation to someone who would benefit from experiencing the joy of flight. The award of this scholarship is intended to fund introductory flight training to encourage achievement of a stated goal, whether in aviation or in another field of study. There is no prerequisite flight training required for this scholarship, just enthusiasm and the desire to learn. The Dreams Take Flight Scholarship is an award in the amount of $500.00.

We are doing something simply unprecedented this year and we are super excited to finally be able to share the news with you. We are announcing NUMEROUS awards for our summer program instead of the usual two. Why? Because we are fortunate to receive donations and membership fees that people entrust to us because they believe and support the mission of Girls With Wings. There is no need or benefit to keep cash idling in the bank when the following individuals can take flight!

Here is Caitlin's application essay: 

My name is Caitlin Lyons and I’m a student pilot out of Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY. I live and work in New York City and commute out to the airport on public transportation. I take the subway three stops, ride the Long Island Railroad for 45 minutes, and then walk a mile from the train station to the airport. 

The thing I found most surprising during my journey, so far, to obtain my pilot’s license was at the start. It took me awhile to build up the courage to admit to my pilot boyfriend I wanted to take flight lessons. I don’t know why, I was just scared his reaction wouldn’t be the supportive one it turned out to be. We were on vacation with all his pilot friends and their girlfriends, but I took the opportunity of being alone to express the desire to start flight training that had been burning inside me for about six months. He was amazing and we started formulating a plan for my training when his friend and his girlfriend entered the room and asked what we were talking about. My boyfriend told them to my embarrassment; at the time I wanted it private. Now, here’s the surprise, the girlfriend just told me it was "just a phase" and she went through it too. I was quite taken aback at that, especially coming from another female. I felt put down and not taken seriously, it put more motivation in me to acquire my license and show her it’s not something I want to do just because my boyfriend does it. As Amelia Earhart said, “I want to do because I want to do it.” I’m not a girl who gives up on dreams easily, especially if it’s challenging. I believe women should support other women in their dreams, and definitely with ones that are perceived difficult for women. Even though our gender has come a long way, there are still people who will tell us it’s not possible and put us down, we don’t need that from within our community. 

I find myself desperately wanting to do something to help girls and women to know the joys of flying, but feel restricted because I've yet to earn my Private Pilot's License. I've started a blog, Not only to record my process for myself, but in hopes that it'll reach some others and inspire them to take up flight training. I hope when I've accomplished that goal to continue learning and be able to make a difference and help inspire young girls to fly. I’ve looked for opportunities promote general aviation, but never seem to have the qualifications, whether it is just a Private Pilot’s License or a CFI. Girls With Wings scholarship would give me a stepping-stone to finish my license and also provide an opportunity to start my adventure to promote what I love. 

In my training, I’ve recently hit a hard spot and was extremely discouraged due to nerves about flying the plane solo. My instructor was amazingly supportive and she was able to talk to me and give me the courage to try to get over my fears. I know having a female instructor has been great for me, and not something I expected to have during my training. I feel she understands these emotions from a female standpoint, which is important in helping to overcome them. She has also set a wonderful example of what I could aspire to and been a great mentor. 

My career is working in theatre as a stage manager. I'm lucky to do what I love; it's exciting and fun. In theatre, as with aviation, there isn't a lot of money earned by those doing what they love, unless at a high level. In airline terms, I'm a regional airline first officer. Now, I'm even luckier to start pursuing another dream, flying. This scholarship would help so much with the financial strain of getting a license in the New York City area. 

It takes a lot of commitment to wake up at 6am, after coming home at 11pm or later, to get ready to go flying. I’d get up earlier to try to get an earlier lesson time to catch smoother air, yet I’m a prisoner to the train schedule that only lets me have lessons at specific times. 

The days I fly, I find myself happier and more fulfilled than the days I do not. I try to incorporate flying into my life as much as possible on a daily basis, whether it be flying, studying books, watching TV shows or films, or just looking up into the sky at the airplanes flying over the city. I’d love to win this scholarship to help me finish my license as quickly as possible, so I can begin what I really want to do: inspire girls that aviation is an option for them, for fun or for a career, something that I wasn’t even sure was possible for myself a year and a half ago.

We wish Caitlin great success in the pursuit of her dreams! We look forward to hearing about your training.

See the details of the 2014 Scholarship program starting January 1st, 2014.

Please note that the scholarships are funded by donations - so we need contributions from people like YOU to keep our program running. We always have way more deserving applicants than funds. Visit our donation page to help.

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