Konowitz leads a team of more than 100 different people and entities bringing the SkyCourier to production; it was certified by the FAA in early March 2022. The SkyCourier will be available in cargo and passenger versions. Textron Aviation will assemble the SkyCourier 408 in Wichita, Kansas, where 9,500 of its 11,000-person staff work. “There is a pride in aviation and strong community feel,” in Wichita, says Konowitz, who moved here from Plano, Texas. “Being a part of the certification effort and bringing two brand-new clean-sheet airplanes to market in recent years has been truly an incredible experience,” she says of her accomplishments.
How did you get started in aviation? When I was a kid, I dreamed of being an astronaut. My father would track the international space station, and when weather cooperated and it wasn’t past our bedtimes, we’d go outside and find that tiny speck moving across the sky. I thought that was the coolest thing—witnessing astronauts circling the globe hundreds of miles away from us.
Biggest challenges? I think it’s common for women to feel a need to prove themselves, to go above and beyond to validate their right to lead or to a certain responsibility. Personally, I’ve had to navigate through the mental roadblocks of just that. I’ve worked very hard in my career, not just because being a hard worker is who I am at my core, but because I know my path is mine to pave. Through this journey I have found mentors and champions who remind me of what I am capable of, but also give me the tough love I need to grow.
Favorite aircraft? That’s a tough question! I grew up obviously loving space shuttles. Being in Wichita when Doc, the refurbished B-29, took flight was amazing. And like many, I learned to fly in a 172 (Cessna Skyhawk). I think it’s absolutely incredible that this Cessna product is the pathway to aviation for so many pilots. If I had to pick an aircraft as favorite, though, it would be either the Cessna SkyCourier or the Citation Longitude.
Favorite aviation-related activity? Other than actually being in the air, I’d say it’s meeting people who have a passion for aviation. I really enjoy going to shows or local air strips, and interacting with people who have a love of aviation, especially for their own aircraft. Talking to people who have decades of experience with aircraft is a great experience. Locally I enjoy heading out to Stearman Field in Benton to watch the aircraft, grab a drink, and talk to others who share this passion.
Advice for students? You may hear it a lot, but it’s true: shoot for the stars. If you want something, go after it. Find the people who support you, and the things that help you take incremental steps along the way toward your dreams. The biggest hurdle is mental, so try to work through the roadblocks of what you think you can and can’t do. Go for it!