Thursday, July 31, 2014

An update from Brittany, GWW Dreams Take Flight Scholarship Winner!

This is the second journal entry provided to us by Brittany Danko, who was selected for a Dreams Take Flight Scholarship from Girls With Wings. The Girls With Wings 2014 Scholarship Program includes the Dreams Take Flight Scholarship was designed to introduce the world of aviation to someone who would benefit from experiencing the joy of flight. 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 in the amount of $500.00, funded by the generous donations from supporters of Girls With Wings, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Brittany's application essay is published here and her first update here

Hello, my name is Brittany Danko and I am a proud winner of one of the Girls With Wings, Dreams Take Flight, scholarships! Here is an update for you!

 As I stated in my original essay, ‘I can proudly say that I have always wanted to be a pilot. As a young girl, I frequently traveled by plane to visit with my Dad in Boston and honestly, I fell in love with flying after a young Delta co-pilot allowed me to tour the cockpit and explore his world, mid-flight!’ Thanks to the Girls With Wings scholarship, this goal is really starting to take shape!

 Since the time that I completed my original essay, I have successfully completed the Prosser Aviation Program and I was chosen by Prosser as the ‘Outstanding Senior’ in the Aviation program. I was honored with a certificate and permanent plaque that will be placed in the hallway outside the door of the Aviation classroom. Winning this award was truly one of my proudest life moments and knowing that I beat out 52 other male classmates made the award all that more important! Additionally, I was also privileged to receive another award and small scholarship from the KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS Chapter of the Ninety Nines as I was chosen as their 2013-2014 Outstanding Female Student enrolled in the Prosser Aviation Program Award! As I stated in my original essay, it is my goal to be a role model to other young women out there who wish to pursue a career in Aviation. I believe that by receiving these great awards, I’ve been able to take a solid step in that direction by modeling what a female in Aviation can accomplish!

 In addition and perhaps even more exciting, since I submitted my original essay, I have also been able to start FLYING!!! I began my Flight Lessons with Ron Frames at the Greater Clark County airport. It was the airport and instructor that I was assigned via Prosser.

For the past year, I had taken my ground school coursework as well as other aviation related classes. I learned everything there is to know about planes, inside and out! Additionally, I had learned about the history of aviation and about the famous first pilots. I truly felt like I had learned it all - absolutely everything! However, there was one thing I had not done. That was to fly!

So when the big day came, (of course this was accomplished with the generous scholarship I received from Girls With Wings), I was more than ready! I met up my wonderful instructor, Ron, and was a tad overwhelmed getting into the Cessna. Ron was very patient and he worked with me and slowly went through everything I needed to know to begin my first flight. When we were ready to go, Ron let me taxi the plane, something that you cannot actually ‘practice’ ahead of time. It was hard! There were a lot of other people at the airport that day and any onlooker might have believed that I was intoxicated as I was taxing the Cessna down the runway because I was all over the place! I swerved left, then I swerved right and no matter what I tried, it seemed I could not taxi in a straight line! It was such a different concept steering with your feet rather than with your hands!

At the end of the runway, Ron and I went through all the checklists and it was finally time to take off. The moment we were off the ground, it was unbelievable. During this time, my first flight, I had many mixed emotions, the biggest of which was excitement! Yes, we went over the basics of flying, but to me even the basics were thrilling. If I had any kind of nerves beforehand, they were gone. It was finally my time in the air.

Now, I will admit, I am a bit of a control freak, so much so that I don't care for other people to drive me anywhere. During that first flight, I remember thinking to myself that from now on, I want the control of the airplane (with the help of my instructors) and I certainly don't want anyone else flying me! I just felt so powerful at that moment! The hour ended too quickly and soon enough, we had a smooth landing and then some more "drunken" taxing on my part. I was one of the most memorable and spectacular hours of my entire life! Afterward, the one strange thing I noticed was that my ‘face’ actually hurt. It took a few minutes, but I finally figured out that it was my checks that hurt, from smiling so much!!!

Since that day, I have been flying at every opportunity. It’s all been thrilling and exciting and awe inspiring. It seems that when I am in the sky, I am at my happiest. I am free and in control. Looking down at the earth brings me genuine peace. It is now so easy to understand why so many people love aviation. I have too many other stories about my experiences to list here, but each and every take off and landing has been a wonderful experience.

I will say that my most exciting moment, so far, was probably my first stall. Before the stall, I remember thinking that the plane was going to crash to the ground and burst into flames. That would be my luck, just as I was getting really good at flying. In the end, I was excited to find out that it was not bad at all, except perhaps hearing the stall horn. That really scared me at first! Now, when I am practicing stalls, I get a good ‘rush’ knowing I can successfully recover!

Most recently, I have been practicing on perfecting my take offs and landings. My instructor says he is confident I will be able to solo when I have 10 perfect take offs and 10 perfect landings in a row. No, I am not kidding! His logic is that once I am in that rhythm, I will be good to go! So, I am now getting ready for my first solo flight and I can't explain the excitement that I'm feeling for it!

Getting ready to solo means that at every opportunity I have, I head out to the airport. Interestingly enough, every time I arrive at the airport, I find I still have a smile on my face. Yes, I am lucky; I am doing what I love! Yes, some days I do get frustrated if I can't get a maneuver just right. However, with a bit of practice, I always end up getting it, so I know I can conquer just about any challenge in front of me! I know I will be hitting my solo any day now!

I know I am blessed to be able fly and I every spare minute I have, if I am not flying, I am working to earn money to fly. You see, flying is a not only a blessing to me, it's a way of life. It is something I hope to continue doing for the rest of my life. It is my passion, my excitement, and it is truly where my heart is.

As a woman in the aviation industry, I feel empowered, but most of all, I feel proud. I am out there, not only flying, but excelling while doing it and doing it better than most of the others around me! Flying has made a beautiful, positive impact of my life and I can honestly say that I want nothing more than to stay healthy and fly each and every day I can! In the future, I know I will one day have a full time career as a pilot but just as importantly, I know that I will also work diligently to serve as a role model for those around me, especially aspiring, young female pilots. I want to encourage young women to chase after their flying dreams like I was encouraged to chase mine!

P.S. As I finalized the essay on July 1, I didn't include information about my first solo.  However, I wanted you to know that the only reason I was able to accomplish this was that I had the money I needed to pay for these hours, thanks specifically to GWW.  I am so humbled and honor to have been chosen for this award.  I cannot express my gratitude in words, but I intend to do my best to pay it forward and be a role model and help inspire and encourage those around me in this amazing profession!

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