Aviation for Girls


Aviation for Girls is a special annual member publication of Women in Aviation International for Girls in Aviation Day. Articles feature young girls living their aviation dreams, career ideas, and education resources.

Issue link: https://afgdigital.epubxp.com/i/742227

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Page 23 of 35

22 AVIATION FOR Girls 2016 BE YOND THE FLIGHT DECK W hen I was in high school none of my friends shared my interest in learning to fly airplanes. I was so excited when I became an aviation major at the Florida Institute of Tech- nology. I met a dozen other girls like me from all over the country who shared my pas- sion for aviation. We felt invincible, and sure that flying jets was in our near future. J O D A M A T O , C A M T H E J U G G L I N G A C T I still keep in touch with many of them today—mostly thanks to social media. We all started out wanting to be pi- lots and assumed after college graduation we would get fly- ing jobs. While it was the next step for many of our friends, some of us landed careers in aviation that didn't have us in the cockpit. Since I was a preteen, my only goal was to become an airline pilot, pref- erably for United Airlines. I followed a specific plan from the time I was 15 to ensure that I'd one day achieve my dream. I started flying. I soloed when I was 16. I went to a university where I could fly and get an aviation manage- ment degree. I earned all of my air- plane ratings—single and multiengine land, commercial, and instrument. I also became a certified flight instruc- tor and worked for the university as an undergrad. I earned an internship with United Airlines that came with a guaranteed pilot interview when I was ready. I was even hired by a regional airline shortly after graduation. For a number of rea- sons, I quickly learned that the formula I had followed for seven years was no lon- ger the right formula for my success. It was temporarily a time of crisis for me as it was the first time I felt off-course when it came to my aviation goals. Fortunately for me, but also out of necessity to be both em- ployed and to stay connected to aviation, I took a job as a flight scheduler with an aircraft management and charter company. I worked side-by-side with the pilots and mainte- nance professionals to coordinate trips. I had no idea this po- sition existed or even that it was a viable career path before this job. As a flight scheduler, I worked four 10-hour shifts per week where I would come in at 5:30 a.m. and open up operations— this was before business aviation was a global 24/7 industry. The first thing I would do after booting up the computer and checking voicemail and faxes was to read the handwritten pass-down log left for me by the flight scheduler who had closed the operation at 10 the evening prior. I had to constantly be ready to adapt. Sometimes I would get to the airport and we'd have a flight already prepar- ing for departure. I'd ensure that the ca- tering for the flight had arrived and was correct. I'd check in with the flight crew to make sure they had the correct man- ifest confirming the passengers and the intended destination airport. I'd ensure that we had ground transportation set up at the destination for both passen- gers and crew, if needed. If the crew was overnighting at the destination, I also has to ensure that they had hotel accommodations. Ot her t i mes, I wou ld a nswer t he phone and be the first person to get a new f light request. I had to deter- mine aircraft availability and capabil- ity based on performance and runway analysis data. I also needed to under- stand crew duty rest regulations to find pilots who were available to crew the flight. By the end of my 10-hour shift and/or the end of my four days on, I also had to be ready to pass the trip responsibili- ty to the person relieving me. That was probably the hardest thing I had to learn how to do well—work as a team and trust a teammate's ability to see my project to a successful end. I think that one of the reasons I enjoyed my first non- flying job was because my aviation education and pilot ex- perience was an asset to flight and crew scheduling. I was a flight scheduler for only eight months before that company promoted me to director of training, which was an even more exciting opportunity. I was challenged to innovate within the I quickly learned that the formula I had followed for seven years was no longer the right for- mula for my success. It was temporarily a time of crisis for me as it was the first time I felt myself off-course when it came to my aviation goals.

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