This is Ema's essay from her application. As an awardee of this scholarship, she has agreed to send us updates on her flight training, which will be posted here when they are received.
After developing a passion for flight, I enrolled full-time in the Aviation Science program at Dutchess Community College. So far, I have taken the Aviation History, Aircraft Safety, Aviation Management, and Instrument Flight classes, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Spring 2014 marks my second semester at the college.
In order to be more involved in the aviation community, I am a member of the Poughkeepsie Pilot Association (PPA), the Hudson Valley Aviation Club, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). I attend safety seminars whenever possible, and use AOPA as a valuable resource to my flight training.
The PPA holds meetings to discuss issues pertinent to Dutchess County Airport (KPOU), local and national aviation news, new certificates/solos, aircraft accidents, and PPA activities. The club hosts barbeques, holiday parties, fly-outs, and an annual open house. This has created a close community at the airport, and many of the older members of the PPA have acted as mentors to the students at Dutchess Community College. Participation in this club is important to me.
In the spring, I will be flying to the Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina with the PPA. We will have lunch in Delaware, visit First Flight Airport, camp next to our airplanes, and have lunch in New Jersey (at an airport with a WWII aviation museum). Without the club, and my involvement in the community, I would not have had this exciting opportunity. In one weekend, I will have traveled to four different airports, which will give me valuable cross-country experience.
I joined the Hudson Valley Aviation Club through Dutchess Community College, which is organized by the students. Unlike the PPA, which involves mostly veteran aviators, this club consists of mainly young, student pilots. I enjoy talking to pilots my age about personal experiences in the industry and recent flying. We frequently discuss aircraft accidents at our biweekly meetings and hold discussions about safety. I plan to run for a leadership position in the Hudson Valley Aviation Club once we begin elections.
I am also very committed to my schoolwork, which resulted in an invitation to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK). The bimonthly meetings focus on community service and resume building. Regarding volunteerism, I helped host a blood drive at Onteora High School, as well as a senior citizen prom for men and women in the Onteora school district.
I have also volunteered for the Olive Free Library, cleaning and reorganizing bookshelves. Another student and I hosted a movie night at the library, and offered extra credit (for the local high school) to those who came. We chose to screen Bully, a documentary that aims to raise awareness of the negative effects caused by bullying.
Specific to aviation, I have volunteered to recruit students for the Aviation Science program at Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Center. I took this opportunity seriously, as I wanted to inspire others to enter the aviation industry. I spoke in front of Onteora High School students about my experience with the program. They asked me questions about flight time, ground school, and the flight simulators we had in the classroom.
As for leadership experience, I was once a Counselor-In-Training for Frost Valley YMCA. Along with two other counselors, I supervised and led a group of ten children into the Shawangunk Ridge in New Paltz, New York. Motivating the campers to hike and rock climb was rewarding, and made me realize that I enjoy teaching and working with kids. This is partly why I am so excited to become a certified flight instructor.
The campers taught me a lot about myself and what is necessary in becoming a positive role model. Naturally, I bonded with the girls in my group. I learned to lead by example, by having a passion about the activities we were doing, acting selflessly when it was necessary, handling stress, and having confidence in the campers themselves. This experience tested my patience, perseverance, and commitment to the group as a whole.
My most recent experience with leadership was becoming the editor of the Conklin Hall Newsletter at Dutchess Community College. This position includes brainstorming article ideas and assigning projects to other students. I have written about stress management, local hiking trails, and have interviewed students about life at the college. My goal is to promote healthy living and inspire students to focus on schoolwork.
Writing is another passion of mine. I always had an interest in flying, but as a little girl, I saw it as an unattainable dream. The requirements for obtaining a pilot certificate are not common knowledge. Welcoming others into the industry is important in keeping it alive and thriving. I make it a point to tell others why I love to fly, and encourage new students to keep training, even when it is hard to stay motivated.
Any pilot can tell the story of his or her first solo. I cried while taxiing to the runway, not out of fear, but out of the joy and sense of accomplishment I felt. These emotions only heightened when I received my license. The examiner congratulated me on the landing rollout of my check ride. I thought I was going to spin right off the runway in elation.
Flying reminds me that the world is beautiful. Any pilot who has flown in the Hudson Valley is blessed. The Catskill Mountains, Hudson River, and Ashokan Reservoir fill me with astonishment. Amazingly, the scenery is constantly changing with the weather, time of day, and time of year.
Flying gives me solitude. When I fly at night, and the lights congregate into large towns, I feel set apart from civilization. Surrounding the cluster of moving vehicles, perfectly lined-up houses, and well-lit parking lots, is a blackness. We are still small in this world, and nature is all around us. Then, I see other flashing lights in the sky, planes piloted by men and women experiencing the same sense of awe; reassuringly, I am never really alone. These are just a few of the reasons I love to fly.
It is an honor to be one of the few girls in aviation. Still, only about 6% of pilots in the United States are women. It is important to envision airline captains as females too, since the media tends to illustrate them as otherwise. Younger generations need to see that anyone can fly, for the sake of our industry.
One common argument is that if women wanted to be pilots, they would be. In other words, typical females do not have the desire to fly. However, there is no actual evidence that this is the case. Men introduce other men to the hobby. They have exposure and a commonality with pilots already in the workforce, which is an entirely different experience. I want to introduce other females into the field and make them feel welcome too.
Women need to support other women. As a pilot who loves what I do, I feel it is partly my responsibility to introduce the art of flying to others as well. This includes both genders, but especially women who might feel shy about going to the airport.
The most motivating force in my flight training was my aviation science teacher at Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Center. She had dealt with the same gender issues as I have, and understood the training process well. Without her, I may not have earned my pilot certificate. She inspires me to inspire others.
Helping other women in the aviation industry is a goal of mine, since I understand the tremendous amount of help having a role model can be. This includes encouraging others to continue flying, even when it is cold out, or if she is lacking motivation; talking about issues that students face during training (sloppy landings, confusion during navigation, etc.); introducing women to other pilots; and inviting these women to events in the aviation community. I hope to be a part of Girls With Wings, in the effort to communicate with my female peers.
In 2013, I won a Vanguard Student Recognition Award through The NET (Nontraditional Employment & Training) Project. This award is for students who are pursuing careers that are nontraditional for their genders. This recognition inspired me more than ever, and efforts like these can strengthen a student’s commitment to a nontraditional field.
Other awards I have received include a career-tech diploma endorsement with high honors (Ulster BOCES Aviation Science Program in 2013), the Ulster County BOCES Achievement of Excellence in English (2013), the Ulster County BOCES Achievement of Academic Excellence and Professionalism in Aviation (2013), and the fall 2013 President's List at Dutchess Community College.
The aviation industry is an expensive field to get involved in, especially during training. I want to obtain my commercial rating as soon as possible in order to share my passion with others, and support myself (specifically during the next few years of college). I am already halfway through my instrument training, and try to fly at three times per week. My plan is to continue into commercial training immediately; however, I need the funds to do this.
The aviation industry is challenging, exciting, and interesting. My long-term goals include teaching (as a Certified Flight Instructor, and eventually a college professor), writing (in aviation journalism/textbooks), owning a business (a flight school, air charter, and/or commercial spaceflight company), and flying commercially.
My short-term goals include transferring to a four-year university. The decision to major in either Aeronautical Engineering, Aviation Management, or Aviation Science, has proven difficult. The only thing that is definite is my will to fly and my determination to share the industry with more women.
The Girls With Wings 2014 Scholarship Program includes the Advanced Training Scholarship, to help defray the cost of flight training lessons in pursuit of an Advanced Rating or Certificate such as instrument rating, commercial pilot certificate, flight instructor certificate, instrument flight instructor certificate, multi-engine rating or multi-engine flight instructor certificate. This new scholarship award is in the amount of $1000, funded by the generous donations from supporters of Girls With Wings, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.