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Five Questions: Jill ‘Ivy’ McIver

Cirrus Aircraft’s ‘unstoppable force’ gets things done

Whether it’s a bike race, an aviation rating, or improving an aircraft product line, Jill “Ivy” McIver is an unstoppable force for getting things done.

Courtesy CirrusObstacles and setbacks seem not to deter McIver, an energetic and resourceful pilot with a talent for accomplishing complex and difficult projects.  

At work in Knoxville, Tennessee, McIver (a Rhode Island native) manages the Cirrus SR20 and SR22 product lines, and she’s flown those airplanes all over the world. McIver is one of a few pilots at Cirrus with specialized training for planning and performing photography flights, a role that’s taken her around the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. 

She’s been with Cirrus since 2006. McIver helped invent Embark—an industry-leading safety program that provides transition flight training for buyers of used Cirrus aircraft just like new aircraft buyers get. That training, which is provided free to the used aircraft buyer, is meant to save lives in part by making the Cirrus whole-airplane parachute system top of mind for pilots facing in-flight emergencies. 

McIver is a dedicated cyclist who teaches spin classes and, with husband Brad, participates in multi-day endurance events, mostly in the Mountain West. She recently earned her first type rating in the Cirrus SF50 Vision jet. 

How did you get started in aviation? It’s a bit cliché, but I saw Top Gun when I was little and decided I wanted to be a fighter pilot. That didn’t end up working out; there was a height requirement at the time of 5 feet 4 inches and I am 5 foot 2 on a good day, but the desire to become a pilot never faded. I started learning to fly after college at a small flight school in Chicago. Ten years later I turned my passion for flying into a career in aviation and never looked back!

What were your biggest challenges? I didn’t have a car, so every time I went to the airport I had to borrow a car. I owed a lot of people favors after a few months. Also, the weather in Chicago in the winter isn’t conducive to private pilot training, so there were a lot of stops and starts. I had very supportive and encouraging flight instructors, great friends, and family who were excited for me, and once I got my license, I had no shortage of passengers who wanted to join me for adventures.

What is your favorite aviation-related activity? Nerd alert! I love going out and trying to perfect whatever I’m doing. One example: I fly a Citabria (when I’m not flying a Cirrus) and I love going out to the airport and doing wheel landings, one after the other, a bunch with one notch of flaps, then with two, then with three, then trying to land on a particular spot, then on a different spot. Of course, I also love to go have adventures; flying an airplane is cool but flying an airplane to go do something is way cooler!

What is your favorite aircraft? There are so many awesome aircraft. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Cessna 195. I would love to fly one someday.

Do you have any advice for students? Be humble, be open to feedback. It’s easy to get defensive and frustrated when people are giving you advice and suggestions about the perfect way to do something. You can learn something from every pilot you meet. Keep what makes sense and works for you but don’t feel the need to incorporate everything that people suggest into your flying. Appreciate the fact that most people are excited that you are becoming a pilot and just want to help.

Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.

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