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Sabrina Kipp

Panchito pilot

Thousands of pilots and aviation enthusiasts have admired the North American B–25 Panchito from the Delaware Aviation Museum at events around the country for years, but just as deserving of admiration is the crew that maintains and flies this legend, which includes former airline pilot Sabrina Kipp.

Kipp has been hooked on flying since her college days when some friends in aeronautics school invited her to fly with them and let her have the controls.

“I really liked flying, so these trips were a great thrill,” she says. “At the end of my freshman year, my friend came to me and said, ‘We’ve taken a vote, and we think you are in the wrong major.’ I switched to flying in my sophomore year, and they were right, flying is the perfect vocation.”

Her career has included flight instructing, multiple charter jobs that included flying freight as well as passengers, and a part-time job flying a Douglas DC–6 and Convair CV–340 in operations carrying the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s newspapers. After various corporate jobs, she spent 12 years in regional airlines, 25 years at Southwest Airlines, and volunteered as an aviation safety counselor for the FAA (with a precursor to what is now the FAASTeam). Kipp was recently awarded the Presidential Lifetime Achievement award for her years as a volunteer in the Federal Flight Deck Officer program. Now retired, she has spent the past eight years volunteering with the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation and is the safety officer and director of training for the foundation’s B–25 type rating program. She is best known to the public as a welcoming face on the flight deck for folks getting a once-in-a-lifetime ride in Panchito.

Kipp loves meeting other pilots and aviation enthusiasts and flying her Aeronca L–16 (she plans to attend more fly-ins when she can find the time). Along the way, she encourages her fellow pilots to cultivate patience and an always-learning attitude.

“Despite my level of pilot certificates, I consider myself a 47-year student pilot,” she says. “There is always more to learn"

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Emma Quedzuweit

Assistant Editor
Assistant Editor Emma Quedzuweit, who joined the AOPA publications staff in 2022, is a private pilot and historical researcher.

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