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The women of AOPA offer advice to future female pilots

In honor of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, March 6-12, 2017

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week is the celebration of women in aviation, past, present, and future held annually during one week in March. The week is designed to raise awareness of aviation opportunities available to girls of all ages. In honor of this special week, we reached out to our wonderful female members and staff, to see what advice they would offer future female pilots.

The Women of AOPA

  • The Women of AOPA
    Luz Beattie, Kathy Dondzila, Paula Wivell

“I highly encourage women of 50+ who have always wanted to fly a plane to do so NOW! I am 68 years old and started taking lessons when I was 55. I now have 2,200 hours! My VFR license was followed quickly by IFR and my own plane (a Cirrus SR/22). I use it for business, to take my husband and me to visit out-of-town friends, family, and grandkids. I pilot Angel Flights and take long cross-country vacation trips. Having a ball! I can't imagine my life without it!” — Mary Beth Price, AOPA member

“Piloting an airplane separates you from the earth, from everyday ways of thinking, and gives you a new perspective. Flying, in itself, is a fundamentally transformative experience. In my life, aviation had led to me countless opportunities to transform myself and the way I see the world—and being a pilot has guided just about everything that’s happened since. And now, it is my job—our job—to encourage and support the next generation of female pilots. If you even have an inkling to learn to fly, ask one of us for guidance and advice. We are here to help and ready to invite you into our community.” – Katie Pribyl, AOPA member and employee

“Always aim high and reach for the sky! There will be 'ups and downs' along your journey, and there may be people that'll try to discourage you, but you must have the potential! The passion you have and the ambition to change the aviation industry is what makes you successful! Being a woman pilot is amazing! People look up to you (especially when you're flying above them!), and you really do inspire those around you! Never lose the desire and love that you have for aviation now because, one day, there will be a young lady looking up to you and saying 'I want to be like her!' No matter how long or how tough the journey is, you will be joining an elite group of ladies who share a common bond of sisterhood! (Only 5% of pilots are female!) The friends you will meet and the memories you will make, those are things that will last a lifetime! Keep your eyes to the sky and see you at the airport!” — Liz Lekarczyk, AOPA member

“Learning to fly has changed my life in so many ways. I’ve met wonderful people and traveled to some amazing places. I’m a much more confident person. I learned to fly at age 40, so don’t let anybody tell you it’s just for young people. Flying is for everyone who wants to expand their horizons.” — Jill Tallman, AOPA member and employee

“Learning to fly is an adventure of a lifetime. Once you get your pilot's certificate, you are set free to explore new and exciting places. No other experience can compare to being a pilot. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment that you feel. Looking at a map and having the ability to plan a flight to a new destination can be rewarding. Looking into the sky as an airplane is flying overhead knowing that it could be you. So go out there and live your adventure!” — Mandi Niedzielski, AOPA member

“Persevere, Commit, Challenge! Getting your pilot's license is the most rewarding (next to having children) opportunity to experience. If you want it... GO FOR IT! You are never 'too old' to get your certificate. I experienced highs, lows, and everything in between while training, but the day the examiner shook my hand and said: 'Congratulations, you are a certificated pilot' was a feeling like no other. What’s my next exciting challenge... flying in the All Women’s Air Race Classic in June with 2 of my coworkers. WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! So, ladies, get out there and show them what you’re made of. YOU CAN DO IT!” - Paula Wivell, AOPA member and employee, and VP, AOPA WAI Chapter

“Learning to fly and getting my pilot's license have been among the most fulfilling actions I have experienced in my life. I have flown for pleasure and for work, and I have used my aviation knowledge in my career as a paralegal (in aviation litigation). I have also thoroughly enjoyed owning and part-owning several airplanes. If you are, at all, interested in flying for business or pleasure, please try it. The possibilities are unlimited.” — Nancy Pierce, AOPA member

“My piece of advice is—if you have the biological need to fly, let nothing stop you. Decades of my career were spent getting the snot beat out of me. In training, at the airlines... particularly at the airlines! Nothing ever stopped me, and I did get to where I wanted to go. Now, having survived all that, I have what I consider the best flying job ever.  I fly skydivers in Florida out of either a Twin Otter or a PAC-750. I consider this job my prize for hanging in there. In order for you to make it, your attitude has to be ‘it doesn't matter what you do, I will not stop.’” — Captain Sandra Williams, AOPA member

“I’ve worked with pilots and others who love flying for nearly 30 years at AOPA. Early in my career, I earned my private pilot license and an instrument rating. However, I found that raising a large and wonderful family involved a robust commitment of time and energy and I, like many women, put flying on hold for several years. But now that I’m a grandmother, I’m taking recurrency  training and getting back in the air. In fact, I’m planning to participate with two coworkers in the Women’s Air Race Classic in June. It’s not too late to get back in the air in your 60’s—take it from me!” — Kathy Dondzila, AOPA member and employee

A special thank you to our Pilot Protection Services members who graciously provided their valuable insights. Happy Women of Aviation Worldwide Week!

Topics: People

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