This post was written by Lori, a student pilot currently undergoing flight training for a private pilot license.

To learn more about the camp Lori attended, Girls In Flight Training – visit the website. You can also find GIFT on Facebook, along with recent activities, networking opportunities, upcoming events, updates, and more.

What has G.I.F.T. done for me?

First let me explain the acronym, Girls in Flight Training. I first encountered this in a magazine that I  picked up in a doctor’s office randomly. It was an “AOPA” magazine and it had a picture of a plane on it.  I love airplanes, always have. I don’t remember there ever being a day in my life that I didn’t.

I read an article about “Rusty Pilots” and how easy it was to get back flying if you have been away from it for a while. In my case, I had never become a pilot or started any training. The idea was appealing. I  took a picture of the magazine and put it back thinking that I would have to look up this magazine and order it. It was probably a few months, saw the picture in my phone while looking for something else and ordered the subscription. As I received the magazine each month, the articles were easy to read and not above my head.

One day there was an announcement about an event called G.I.F.T, in Vernon, TX with a gal named Mary  Latimer; it was Spring of 2018. I was elated. Put it in my calendar and thought, I’d love to do this. It talked about girls learning to fly, beginners, those working on advanced ratings, and the like. I had no idea what any of that meant. I saw the words “girls” and “beginners.” I was sold. I looked them up on  Facebook and watched. Probably 2 years rolled by watching, putting dates in my calendar and wishing, wishing I could do something like that someday.

Finally, there was an event, and my other “life issues” didn’t collide with the scheduled event. This time,  however, it was in Wisconsin. Why Wisconsin? But, I was so excited that I had the availability to go, this was Jun 2020, the year of COVID-19. I contacted the host Bridgett Nottestad and made some excuses about not having known anything about flying or had any “stuff” they suggested bringing. She said,  come on, we can help you figure it out. What a concept! This, now as I think about it, is mentorship.  This is what we all need in our lives. Those that have blazed the trail, know the pitfalls and stumbling blocks, and offer a hand up. Women pilots make up 7% of all pilots. This is a small number and no wonder. Where are the mentors? They are right here, a community of people that know the next step.  This broke down the last 40 years of “how do I eat this elephant?” I love airplanes, I desperately wanted to be a pilot, but had no idea how to get from point A to point B. Not only did they present each step, they helped you get to the next step. They had all women interested in the same thing, flying. There was an option if you wanted to stay with someone local in the area. At first, I thought I’d just get a hotel or something, but it was 7 days, and I would need a car, and the costs started to add up. I asked to be put on the list to stay with someone in the area. Little did I know this would be the beginning of lifelong friends from really different walks of life interested in airplanes and flying them. I was introduced to other organizations of women fliers, like the 99’s. There are women all over the world that fly or have flown,  and want to help other women. Huh, I love these ladies. Side note, I have joined them too.

First flight lesson after discovery flight at first GIFT event I attended.

Attending G.I.F.T. has been one of the best decisions in my life. I have gone twice now, and each time, I  have built new friendships and continued knowledge about opportunities available in flight training and jobs that are available. I’m not a spring chicken. I wish like everything I had had this available to me much earlier in my life. In the last class we had a 14, 15, and 18-year-old girl learning about becoming a  pilot. We had another woman, not sure how old, but she flew with her husband, and wanted to know how to land the airplane if her husband had a heart attack while she was in the plane. The 18-year-old girl was almost ready for her check ride. Come on now, you can’t tell me this concept is not working. It most certainly is. And, it is amazing. They need CFI’s, they need, airplanes, they need willing volunteers that want the same thing for more women. If you believe in helping other people achieve their dreams and you have the ability to help, join us. I love “stumbling” into this community of women helping women achieve something great. It is a “GIFT”. Thank you Mary for your vision, and thank you to each that have attended and made this what it is today. We are still pioneers.

Have you attended a GIFT camp? Are you considering the opportunity after reading this article?

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