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The Essay of Laura Galvez
My grandfather treasured his little Cessna and loved to fly family and friends. My uncle used to share stories from flying with the Air Force in Desert Storm and he continues to share his experiences as a pilot flying international routes commercially. When I finally received my private pilot’s license this year, my mind and spirit knew for certain flying was in my blood. I aspire to one day to fly airplanes as an aerial firefighter. My passion for aerial firefighting stems from my time with the fire department, as well as being a Californian who has seen the effects of wildfires on family and friends. I want to be involved with the collaboration and advancement in this arena to problem-solve and streamline ideas for new training opportunities and larger-scale solutions.
Previously, as a volunteer firefighter, personal trainer, and corporate manager, my drive was geared towards leadership training and mentorship for young adults. Even as a young college student, while completing the leadership academy and overseeing the Fitness Major’s Association, mentorship resonated with me. I continue to share this passion by volunteering for events such as Women Can Fly gatherings and working to expand my flight school. I am inspired by the mission of Fly Girl and have joined its cause! As a member of the 99’s, and my chapters soon to be new treasurer, I’ve found another way to get involved with mentorship for potential pilots and also serve my local community.
I came from a successful, yet demanding corporate job providing financial stability and the funding for my private pilot’s license. It did not, however, bring any personal or career fulfillment. In order to save money to fly, I moved into an RV, tightened my budget, and began working for my flight school, Epix Aviation. Despite no tuition assistance or personal contributors for my next ratings, I made the decision to fully commit to flying. This allows me to be around aviation full-time and provides an opportunity for me to utilize my business skills in this family-operated flight school. I am the best candidate for this award because of my determination to accomplish the goals set ahead. In academia, I graduated magna cum laude and have been an active member of honor societies such as Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key. It is my fundamental belief we should strive for excellence and take pride in each pursuit because following what moves us is a privilege.
After completing my instrument, my goal is to finish the commercial rating and have my first job as a pilot by fall. In 10 years, I believe my dream to become a successful aerial firefighter and strong pilot mentor in the community will be my reality. In order to maintain the path I envision, I am seeking financial assistance for my commercial rating. The generous flyGIRL/Sporty’s Scholarship award would enable me to make definite strides towards the high impact career goals I seek to accomplish. I greatly appreciate your time and consideration.
The Essay of Kelsey Sagen
Growing up, my mom always told me, “Find a job that you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Through my pursuit of becoming a professional pilot, that’s exactly what I intend to do.
My career in aviation began as a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines in 2017. Through my experience in the industry, the opportunities I had to see the flight deck sparked my interest in becoming a pilot. I began asking questions, and soon I met a pilot who noticed my interest and asked if I’d ever considered becoming a pilot. This was the first time that I recognized that aviation could be a career possibility for me. I sat down and began researching and decided I would introduce myself to flying by taking a few lessons.
Within the first lesson or two, I was obsessed. My thought process went from, “Should I pursue a career in aviation?” to, “I have to do this, now how am I going to make it work?” I paid for my private license training primarily by picking up extra shifts at Delta and taking money out of my savings. It was difficult to balance working overtime and scheduling flight lessons, but I am proud to say that over the last seven months I was able to get my private license. Soloing for the first time and getting my license are two of my proudest moments to date! I could not be more excited to pursue this career.
In five years, I would love to see myself back at a big carrier like Delta. Every day that I go to work, I dream about what it would be like to be on the other side of the flight deck door. I am already familiar with the aviation lifestyle, and to be able to actually fly the plane would be incredible. In ten years, I hope to be a captain, and I know that I would make a good leader. I have held many different leadership positions throughout my life, some of which include being captain of my dance teams, president of a club at my university, and working as a lead flight attendant.
Getting my pilot’s license was very exciting, but it was also bittersweet. Picking up extra shifts alone is not enough to pay for my flight training, and I know I need to continue to build up my savings before I can start my instrument training. Regardless, I am willing to do whatever it takes. If I were to receive this scholarship, I would be grateful beyond words; this scholarship money would allow me to keep pursuing my passion and advancing my future without a need to stop. Consistency is important in aviation, and if I were to receive this scholarship, I could immediately begin earning my instrument rating.
I have been training with Air Trek North at their South Saint Paul (Fleming Field) location. I received my private pilot’s license in a Cessna 150. I would love to continue my training with them. Their Cessna 172 is instrument equipped, and I plan to get my instrument rating in that plane. The Cessna 172 is $150/hour wet, and the instructor fee is $85/hour.
If you selected me as a flyGIRL scholarship recipient, I can promise it would be put to good use. I am a very dedicated individual, and throughout my time in academics and in my career at Delta, I have received awards of dedication and leadership. I earned the award for being “most dedicated” three of four consecutive years on my high school dance team. In college, the scholarships that I earned were all centered on leadership. I have always been a good student, graduating top ten of my class and Magna Cum Laude. At Delta, I consistently get written accolades of a job well done from coworkers and passengers. When I set my mind to something, I make it happen; I don’t give up.
I will continue to become more involved in Women in Aviation events. I have met wonderful people through the organization thus far. I enjoyed volunteering at the Stars of the North chapter’s Girls in Aviation Day. It was wonderful to connect with people whose passions are similar to mine and fun to watch the next generation get excited about airplanes!
Being a part of the aviation community has been such an amazing experience for me. I have met many people who have been willing to advise me, help with my studies, or take me up on a plane. Someday, I will do the same for others. I hope you will consider me for this scholarship; you would be helping me pursue my dream.
The Essay of Heather Geer
“Do you want to fly?” I can still see the smile on my dad’s face as he looked over at me in the right seat. I remember the excitement I felt at five years old as I wrapped my hands around the yoke and experienced my very first taste of flying.
I took my first flying lesson in Honolulu, HI in 2009. I knew I was hooked the first time I sat in the left seat. I also knew that the cost of obtaining my private pilot’s license was going to make it nearly impossible to obtain. I was going to learn to fly no matter how long it took me to get there. The cost of flying in Hawaii was exorbitant, so I saved every bit of extra money from my non-profit job and completed 4 hours of flight training and ground school. I also gained six hours of backseat stick time in a T-6 Texan belonging to the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation. My goals were clearly defined the moment I strapped into that airplane: I wanted to fly Warbirds to preserve the lost history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and inspire other young women to follow their flying dreams.
In January 2016, I flew with a CFI friend who allowed me to trade labor (assisting with annuals and maintenance, etc.) for flight time. In 2017, my parents generously gifted me the funds to complete my training through my first solo. At just under 32 hours, I completed my first solo on May 13, 2017. I have volunteered with the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation since 2009, assisting with fundraising and grant writing, as well as with maintenance on the Foundation’s former T-6 Texan. I have volunteered with the Heritage Flight Museum, assisting with their Fly Day operations and special events and will step into a volunteer aircraft marshaling position for the 2020 Fly Day Season. I have learned a great deal about aviation through these volunteer experiences & they have provided me the opportunity to learn more about Warbirds and my interest in preserving their history.
My 5-year goal is to be the pilot in command for T-6 Texan flying demonstrations with BRAVO 369, preserving the untold history of Lend-Lease and the WASP. In 2020, I will serve as co-pilot of a T-6 Texan on a flight that will re-create the Alaska Siberia Air Route that was used to deliver warbirds to our Russian Allies during WWII. While relatively few women fly Warbirds today, women pilots were primarily responsible for ferrying the aircraft to Great Falls, Montana during WWII to deliver them to the 7th Ferrying Group who were responsible for delivering them to Fairbanks, Alaska to the Soviet Pilots. My 10-year goal is to be a tailwheel CFI and provide training to other pilots who want to fly tailwheel aircraft. I would be the only female tailwheel CFI and one of only a handful of tailwheel CFIs in my area.
As a student pilot who has had to pause training on more than one occasion due to cost, I realize that it is more financially responsible to obtain funding to complete my training prior to restarting training. If I were awarded the flyGIRL/Sporty’s Scholarship, I will be able to complete my remaining 20 hours of training. In addition to a small financial bonus from my workplace, this scholarship will complete my cross country training, check ride and gain my license and tailwheel endorsement. Previous flight training was financed through labor trade and through financial gifts from family members. I am completing my training at Command Aviation’s Flight School in Bellingham, WA with completion expected by October 1st, 2020. The current wet rate of my flight instruction in a 1978 Piper PA28-161 is approximately $180/hour including instructor rate.
I would consider it honor to be a recipient of the 2020 flyGIRL/Sporty’s Scholarship and will endeavor to pay forward the opportunity to fly to other women in need who aspire to be pilots.
The Essay of Lea Hadzick
Before I knew what an airplane was, how lift was generated, or what drag and thrust have to do with it, I was four days old on a 737-200, Denver to Albuquerque. A year later, I was placed into a car seat with my teddy bear in a Cessna 172 being flown by my father. Before I was born my mother was a flight attendant, so you could say it’s in my blood.
My eyes have always been skyward. Living in Denver again the past 2 plus years has been a great experience for my husband and I. We love the mountains, running on trails, and traveling on my benefits. I am a flight attendant with United Airlines which has allowed me the chance to be a crew member with some amazing people, including awesome female pilots.
I flew with an amazing female pilot over a two-day trip. I was just beginning my flight training when we worked together. I was so nervous, trying to muster up the confidence to start a conversation with her, but I am beyond happy I did. Elizabeth let me know about an inspiring group she is a part of, the Ninety-Nines and Women In Aviation International.
I was already quite aware of the two groups from my father. However, hearing of it as a 26-year old flight attendant with less than five flight hours, from a Ninety-Nine herself was a completely different sound. On the layover that night, I remember searching for everything I could find about Women In Aviation International and the Ninety-Nines. What chapter would I be a part of? How could I get in touch with these amazing ladies of aviation? When is the first meeting I would be able to attend? What can I do as a student pilot to give back? It’s been a lot of new responsibilities between work, flight lessons and studying for the written tests. I am quickly gaining rhythm and am excited to advance my role as a Women In Aviation International (and Ninety-Nines) member with as much engagement as I can!
My flight training is going great and I love every experience. From the deicing nightmares to the landings that I don’t even feel. They say the best part of flying is the early years, and I can appreciate why. Every lesson is a new humbling challenge with a thrill of learning something new.
I am currently flying with Flights Inc. at Centennial Airport and paying as I go. Since my first flight in late November 2018, I have been flying paycheck to paycheck (as a 2-year reserve flight attendant). For as long as I can, I plan to pay for my ratings as I am now. However, very soon I will need to increase the frequency of my flying to focus on my training as much as I can. For example, I am currently on a company-offered leave of absence for the month of October, so I can work through most of my instrument rating. October was the first month I was able to be awarded a leave, due to my seniority. I will do the same in November. The leaves are of course totally voluntary but completely unpaid. I am foregoing multiple paychecks to dwindle my accrued funds for the opportunity to fly more often.
I need the scholarship award to delay borrowing for as long as possible. Since my first flight at the controls, I was on a path. This award money will allow me the opportunity to focus on my training without the financial stress of a large loan with interest.
Being granted this scholarship would benefit our organization by raising up one of its own during a stage of training when monetary assistance goes a really long way. I would be proud scholarship recipient honored and grateful to be among the many who have flown before me. I am excited to be an added enthusiast-advocate for Women In Aviation International and all-female pilots.
It would be my honor to be “that” someone as Elizabeth was for me. She solidified my already awakened passion through a kind of encouragement that I did not even realize I needed.
The Essay of Stacy Williamson
“Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken-winged bird
that can not fly.”
― Langston Hughes
These lines by African American poet Langston Hughes encompass my desire to achieve my dream of becoming a pilot. I have learned that everyone’s journey into aviation is different. For some it takes a few months, for others it takes years. When I began my aviation journey, I was only exploring this new fascination. The goal was to challenge myself to achieve something that once seemed impossible. Then, when I received a surprise blessing in the birth of my daughter two years ago, that goal had to be put on hold. As I am also a mother of twins, with this new addition to the family, you can imagine that things around here got a bit chaotic. Yet I have now learned to navigate that chaos by leaning on friends and family members. It truly takes a village to raise a family as a working mother.
Although it has been four years since I started this aviation journey, I am holding fast to my dream of becoming a pilot. With each weekly lesson, I try to learn something new and challenge myself to get better. I also continue to push myself through the fear of failing. That fear latches on and tries to demotivate if I begin to overthink my objectives. The breakthrough comes when my children meet me after each lesson and we explore the airport together and converse with fellow pilots. If I am able to influence them by my dedication to achieving this goal, that is a win in itself.
My children have been around airplanes their entire lives because of the passion that I hold for aviation. It is a skillful balance of working full-time and pursuing this dream. Workdays are long and nights are full of afterschool activities and helping them with homework. To sustain this lifestyle, we prioritize and get creative. For example, I read flight test preparation books to them as bedtime stories. We also spend hours together at the local aviation museum learning about engines and different types of aircraft. This joy of aviation I share with my children, I hope remains with them and they grow up to also become aviators.
In order to achieve my overall goal of becoming a pilot, I have now decided to set smaller goals along the way. Achieving the first solo, flying cross-country, taking the written test, etc. This will allow me to maintain a positive mindset in pursuit of this dream. The remaining hurdle is the looming costs of flight lessons. It is difficult to justify the expensive costs of flight lessons with the reality of day-to-day family costs such as saving for college education, groceries, utilities, and daycare.
This scholarship would assist with these costs and allow me to continue the pursuit of this dream. When I become a pilot, I will be committed to inspiring the next generation of aviators by introducing the world of aviation to those that may not have access to such a niche field. Whether it is by leveraging my social media presence to inspire others, speaking at STEM events at local elementary schools, volunteering at local fly-ins, or mentoring other flight school students who face similar hurdles. Everyone’s journey is different and I am committed to achieving success and bringing into the aviation realm as well.
The Essay of Kristina Leng
One of the hardest things to do in life is to follow your dreams. Dreams are often scary, unfamiliar and at times can seem unrealistic. When we are children, we are told to dream big and are re-assured by our parents and teachers that we can literally do anything that we put our minds to. But what about as adults? As we grow older, we tend to focus on the things in life that require our immediate attention: bills, children, and the ringing phone always come before our dreams.
As long as I can remember my Dad has been my best friend, mentor, and guide throughout my entire life. I have looked up to him and wanted to be like him since I was a baby. My Father has set the bar in our family for chasing dreams and manifesting them into reality. When I was 15, I decided to start taking flying lessons as I wanted to be just like my Father when I grew up. I stopped flying after just 2 short months. The timing wasn’t right, and I continued to focus on my other extracurricular activities including ice hockey. My father was a hockey player as well as my coach all the way up until I left for college. I received a Division 1 College Scholarship to play Ice Hockey at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. I enjoyed a great collegiate hockey career and finished strong with a National Championship from Lindenwood University. After college, I worked many different jobs trying to find that one job that “fit me” perfectly.
As I continued into my master’s degree, at the age of 33 I came to a realization that in spite of my professional achievements and successes in life, something was missing. I wasn’t happy, and I was searching for happiness in all the wrong places. I started listening to my dreams and intuition and put pen to paper. I decided to finish the training that I once started as a young teenager.
In June 2019, I walked into our local FBO and signed up for my “intro flight.” I am excited to say that I finished and received my Private Pilot’s License just four days ago! After accomplishing this lifelong dream of becoming a Pilot, I realize that my aviation journey has just begun. There is absolutely no way I can stop now, and I will allow nothing or no one to get in my way. This scholarship would give me the opportunity to continue to follow my lifelong dream as I start the marathon to becoming an Airline Pilot. This life-long childhood dream of growing up to be just like my Dad is finally becoming a reality. The FlyGirl Scholarship will give me the financial boost that I need as I fly right into instrument training.
I believe that I should be awarded this scholarship not only because of my hard work, dedication and drive to become an Airline Pilot- but I also fully intend to give back and pay it forward when my time comes around. I am lucky to have such amazing Female Pilots and support in my life, and I can’t wait to one day be on the giving side of the aviation spectrum.
Thank you for taking the time to read a little bit about me, my life-story and aviation journey!
The Essay of Natalee Negron
In 2005 I didn’t realize cleaning aircraft would be the start of a passion for me. Fast forward to today, 14 years later, 11 of which have been with Allegiant Air, and my resume now reflects the vast experiences I have gained in the aviation industry. I’ve worked as a TSA Officer, handled and taught all aspects of airline ground handling, operations, and customer service. I’ve continuously moved up in the industry and the next step is for me to break another glass ceiling and move to the other side of the flight deck door to be in command of the aircraft. I believe all of the different positions I’ve held within the industry will help me become a better pilot.
Not only will I bring a great sense of teamwork to the company that will employ me as a pilot, but I will also bring diversity. I’ve never truly viewed myself differently because of my Puerto Rican heritage or being a woman. It wasn’t until a Captain with my company, an Indian woman, pointed it out to me; that I will be a very small percentage of the piloting community. That may have intimated some, but for me, it became a great motivator to succeed. I have seen little girls’ eyes light up when they board the aircraft and see that it is a woman flying. One day, I would love to be the reason that a little girl pushes her older brother out of the way so she can look into the flight deck and start asking what all the buttons do.
I have successfully achieved becoming an instrument-rated, single-engine commercial pilot this year. It has not been an easy accomplishment for me. It required many sacrifices, both personal and financial. I come from a family of modest means, so I do not have the financial support some flight students are fortunate to have. My mother’s health has never been well, but it has been declining rapidly after she was diagnosed with kidney cancer late last year. In addition to having to help my mother, my older brother has been battling a terrible drug addiction, leaving me to be the only one to help my parents. Though some may seek sympathy for being in a situation such as mine, it has been a major motivator for me to pursue my dream of flying. I’ve had many moments of doubt and would tell myself that someone like me, someone that doesn’t come from a wealthy family or is the first generation to attend college, to pursue a career, just can’t make it. Struggling financially month to month can truly discourage you from focusing on your education. Hectic days that consist of training in the morning, helping my parents, going to work in the afternoon then having to find a clinic for my brother to get the treatment he needs, all while I to find time to study for my lesson the next day has left me feeling as if maybe now isn’t the time to focus on my dreams. But, at the end of the day, the thought of having my parents aboard my aircraft and they can proudly say that their daughter is piloting them has kept me going. I want to set an example to future pilots and not just tell them, but prove to them, that no matter what situation life hands you, you CAN do it.
If chosen, I will finish my flight training at the school I am currently enrolled at, L3Harris Commercial Training Solutions. With the financial assistance of a scholarship, I will be able to finish my Multi-Engine rating and then move on to my CFI/CFII/MEI certificates. I will continue to dedicate myself to my training and accomplish what I have set out to conquer- to become an airline pilot.
With great appreciation, Natalee A. Negron