Aviation for Girls

2015

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.

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AVIATION FOR Girls 2015 7 S ometimes in life you just know what you want to do and, slowly but surely, all the stars align and one day you fnd yourself living the dream. In Brandi Flinn's case, that dream is building helicopters. Brandi, WAI 60853, says she has always been hands-on. Growing up, she found herself spending a lot of time in the garage with her dad, working on whatever project they had. For her, there was never a question she'd make a living with her hands and a set of tools. She was about 15 when she attended her frst air show near Marquette, Michigan. That's what brought airplanes into the equation, and she was sold. The wide variety of aircraft in- terested her and, she said, "The people are just amazing. You don't meet people like that every day. Especially the home- builders—the people that can put an aircraft together—if you ever have a conversation with them, it's just amazing what they can do." Brandi also took her frst fight that day—in a helicopter. "It didn't have doors on the side, so you could look down. The frst time I was in the air I was in a helicopter and it was priceless." All of this added up to make an incredible impact on Bran- di's life and career choices. When she fnished high school she headed off to Michigan Tech to study civil engineering but quickly found it wasn't for her and began searching for an aviation maintenance program to transfer into closer to home. "I knew that's what I wanted to do," she said. "But I didn't know anything before I walked through the doors at school." She landed at Northern Michigan University (NMU), where Brandi says she enjoyed being one of three girls in her class of 20. "People tend to watch what the ladies are going to do," she said. "How they put a part together, for example. They might put it together differently. I kind of liked being a minority." When selecting a program class size and job rate after grad- uation was important to Brandi. She felt lucky that NMU had such good rates and was near where she grew up in Gwinn, Michigan. In time she found herself president of the Aviation Maintenance Club and was honored as Avia- tion Maintenance Technician (AMT) Student of the Year in 2011-2012. She also enjoyed getting to know her professors a bit more due to the smaller class sizes. It was because of g reat relat ionsh ips with her professors that Brandi was able to expand her interest in hands-on work by becoming a part of the local EAA chap- ter a nd net work w it h i n t he homebu i lt aircraf t community. She credits profes- sor Keit h Nor ton as one of her g reatest mentors. He nominated her to participate in EAA's chapter leadership program, ulti- mately sending her to EAA headquarters for a weekend workshop in 2011 where she met EAA founder Paul Poberezny, an experience she says has been one of her greatest honors. After graduating from NMU in May 2012 and earning her airframe and powerplant (A&P) certifcate in June, she began looking for jobs. Enstrom turned out to be the per- fect ft—offering the chance to get her hands dirty as a dynamic components technician and bringing her back to her first aviation love: helicopters. "We were lucky to fnd Brandi," said Lisa by Kelly Nelson Brandi's frst helicopter ride at an air show near Marquette, Michigan, made a lasting impact on her. COURTESY OF BRANDI FLINN

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