Sunday, April 27, 2014

Erin, An Advanced Training Scholarship Winner!

This is Erin'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.

Flying is my passion. Teaching is my vocation. I used to stare at the sky hoping to one day slip the surly bonds of earth, and, on May 13th of last year, I was finally able make that dream a reality. I passed my PPL checkride last May with immediate hopes of leaping into my Instrument training (which I had already begun) and pushing through to CFI within the next few years. Sadly, government furloughs meant the elimination of my job providing educational advising to our service men and women. This, when combined several other financial setbacks, put my instrument training in a holding pattern.

I joined the 99’s the day I became a Private Pilot. I had, however, been attending meetings for several months while I was still a student pilot. I remember my first meeting vividly because they were discussing their major outreach program: Girl Scout Aviation Day. I was thrilled. Not only was I finally surrounded by other female pilots (I was one of two women at the Dover Aero Club—they have a membership of 120), but they wanted to encourage other young women to fly. This is exactly what I wanted to do. The Aviation Day program was exactly what I needed when I was a young girl. Despite being a student pilot, I promptly volunteered to fly the Club’s PA-28 to Wilmington for the day. And the following year, I volunteered to organize the event.

This year, I am bringing the Girl Scout Day down to Dover—specifically, to the Dover Air Mobility Command (AMC) Museum. The AMC Museum has dozen of planes (from Air Force 2 to a C-5), they have a simulated control tower, and they have flight simulators for the girls to utilize. However, what is more important than all the big planes and fancy equipment is the fact that they want to help expand the program. In the past, 35 girls had been a large number for our small chapter. The Museum would like to work with us to encourage at least 50 young women to attend! I can only imagine where I would be now if I had been given the opportunity to participate in an event like this when I was a girl scout, and I can’t wait to give that opportunity to these young women.

I am desperate to fly consistently again. I am also desperate to remain active in aviation. I want to repay the kindness so many pilots, mechanics, CFIs, chiefs, 99’s have shown me, and I want to share my love of flight with everyone I meet. To accomplish these goals, I have currently completed my AGI certificate not only to make a little extra money for flight training, but also to lead a Private Pilot ground school at the Dover AFB Aero Club as their first female instructor. I have also been working with the Aero Club to begin a special ground school aimed directly at encouraging women to fly. I have become the secretary of my local 99’s chapter (Delaware). Lastly, I am working with my local university’s aviation program (Delaware State University) to design a year long course which will combine English and Aviation.

In five years, I hope to have established myself as a CFI, and to that end, I have asked Barbara Wright to be my mentor. Barbara is currently the chapter chair of the Delaware 99’s and has worked as a CFII (and Air Traffic Controller). Barbara has already been encouraging me to continually reach out to those around me, and she consistently challenges me to make a difference. She knows I want to encourage the next generation of aviators, and I look forward to learning from her knowledge and experience. I want to continue educating, and I want to continue flying. In 10 years, I want to be doing the same thing. Dreams of 777’s haven’t haunted my sleep, but dreams of flight instruction have. I want to sit in the cockpit of a Warrior, crabbing her into the wind, and telling my students the same things I’ve heard a hundred times from my own CFI. Wing down, hold opposite rudder, watch the centerline. Fight with it. Fight. 

Participating in aviation has made my life better. I’ve wanted to fly since I was a little girl. In fact, I dreamed of piloting the space shuttle; I am, however, exactly one inch too short. When I stopped growing, so did my dreams of flight. I knew no pilots, and my parents weren’t particularly supportive of having a daughter who refused to keep her feet on the ground. When I finally found my way back to aviation, I promised myself two things: 1) I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of my dreams and 2) I was going to do everything I could to encourage those around me to pursue their dreams of flight. This scholarship, with its aim of “Paying it Forward,” hits close to home for me. I desperately want to be able to do the same in the not too distant future, and I know this generous award will help make that a reality.

As I mentioned earlier, my job was eliminated during government budget cuts. I have since picked up two-part time jobs, but I am still struggling to finance my aviation goals. This very generous scholarship will enable me to complete stage one of my Instrument Rating; I will be the first female at the Aero Club to do so. I began my Instrument training while I was still a Private Pilot, and my instructor is willing to work with me to accelerate my training. However, I am currently flying only once a month, and I am plagued by my apparent lack of progress. As an educator, I know how important consistency is; and as a student I am frustrated at my inability to fund that reality.

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.

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