Thursday, May 29, 2014

An update from Susana, GWW Private Pilot Scholarship Winner!

This is the first journal entry provided to us by Susana Mai, who was selected for a Private Pilot Scholarship from Girls With Wings. The Girls With Wings 2014 Scholarship Program includes the Private Pilot Scholarship, to help defray the cost of flight training lessons in pursuit of a private pilot certificate. This scholarship targets those individuals who have soloed but have not completed the Private Pilot Course.  The Private Pilot Scholarship is in the amount of $1000.00, funded by the generous donations from supporters of Girls With Wings, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Susana's application essay is published here.

It was soon after hearing about my GWW scholarship that I took my check ride, one of the most terrifying yet exhilarating experiences of my life. I still think that it was one of my best flying days; I felt prepared and like I was nailing every maneuver. It was a busy day at Fox Field where I was taking the exam but I didn’t feel nervous. The weather had been awful and turbulent for the week and a half before, to the point where I was doing simulated check ride procedures with my instructor in bumpy, 30kt winds (an unfortunate side effect of training over the Mojave Desert), but like a breath of fresh air the day of my check ride was clear and calm and blue. I left my exam feeling confident, ready to go to new places, and excited to keep learning. 

I attached a few pictures to illustrate my journey. I finally found a photo from my first solo. The first few were too blurry because I was jumping up and down! Unbeknownst to me, the entire airport knew that I would be soloing that day, and were hiding out in the FBO listening over the radio, silently cheering for me. I love how pilots support each other, no matter whether they’re near or far, local or virtual. The next one is of me and a female pilot I befriended. We flew to the 99’s Antelope Valley Poker Run, which is a fun event where pilots collect cards by traveling to various local airports in support of AV women pilots. Grace got her license just a month before me. We were both each other’s second passengers! The day after I got my pilot’s license I flew as pilot in command to Lake Isabella, and I included a picture of that as well. Having found a fellow female pilot and flying with her is really just an amazing experience, one that I didn’t realize would be so important to me. Sometimes it can be lonely as a female pilot, on the periphery of the boy’s club, but meeting fellow women pilots, talking to them, flying with them, has made me more confident in my abilities and my hopes to continue training. 

The Private Pilot scholarship has not only helped me fulfill my dream to fly, but it’s allowed my dreams to expand. Now that I’ve completed what was once the seemingly fantastical goal of becoming a private pilot, I just want to keep getting new ratings. I find that the more time I invest in flying, the more I’m introduced to amazing aviators and aviatrixes. I’ve found that even when I’m not flying, there’s no better feeling than sitting around, getting advice from some experienced pilots, and hearing their stories. I like keeping up with fellow GWW members on facebook, and knowing that we constantly support each other and are rooting for each other. I’m happy to be a representative of GWW because I hope that you hear my story and are inspired to fly and realize that your unrealistic dreams are actually very very possible. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s work that any girl is more than capable of. 

Just today I got my pilot’s license in the mail! I carry it around with pride! 

Essays about flight training from the other awardees will be published here as they are received.

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