AviNation Magazine Spring 2021

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INSIDE Leading with Love: Strategy Guides Rescue Pilot’s Career Inspiring Women in Airport Management Want to Succeed? Get a Mentor & Get Involved


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Spring 2021


Supporter Index: Please support these fine organizations Aims Community College .......................................2

One Week Cub ........................................................................................................... 4

Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) ................43

Leading with Love: Strategy Guides Rescue Pilot’s Career ................ 6-10

AviNation Museum Directory Showcase ........44

A Fly On the Wall ............................................................................................... 12-13

Central Florida Aircraft Services ....................... 42

What are you Waiting For? ............................................................................ 14-15 Inspiring Women in Airport Management ...............................................16-20

Aviation Supplies & Academics, Inc.................. 31 ByDanJohnson.com ...............................................43 Culver Props ..............................................................43 DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase .................... 27 Endeavor Air .............................................................48 Envoy ............................................................................ 19

What’s New: Aerospace Center for Excellence .................................... 22-23

Experimental Aircraft Channel........................... 38

Cole Harris: Maintaining A Future in Maintenance ..............................24-26

General Aviation News..........................................43

Journey to Becoming a Pilot at Seventeen............................................28-30

LIFT Academy .............................................................9

Golden Flashes Take Flight .......................................................................... 32-33

MATCO mfg .............................................................. 23

Want to Succeed? Get a Mentor & Get Involved ................................. 34-37 New Industry Partnership: Matanuska Susitna High School...................39

Flight Attendant Prep Academy ....................... 42 Just Aircraft LLC ...................................................... 21 Lockwood Aviation ................................................ 38 Pathways to Aviation ............................................. 39 Schweiss Doors ........................................................43 Sebring Flight Academy ......................................43 Sensenich Propeller................................................. 31

Meet flyGIRL Nobi Buntin ............................................................................. 40-41

Sheltair ........................................................................ 38

Mentor Minute: Your Why? ................................................................................. 46

Stewart Systems .........................................................5


Van’s Aircraft .............................................................. 11


Leading with Love: Strategy Guides Rescue Pilot’s Career Inspiring Women in Airport Management Want to Succeed? Get a Mentor & Get Involved

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The American Civil Wings Society .................... 17 USAF ............................................................................45



STEM Pilot .....................................................................3

Emily Wenglarz Cover Photo Courtesy of pg 24-26 A Future in Mainenance Cole Harris: Maintaining

Zenith Aircraft Company ..................................... 27


By: Nick Poucher About AviNation AviNation exists to attract, educate and empower youth in aviation. AviNation magazine strives to give readers insight into the future of aviation by focusing on aviation students, programs, events and innovative approaches to the promotion and continued growth of the aviation industry. Staff & Contributors Publisher: Jacob Peed Copy Editor: Vicky Rink Administrative Coordinator: Jessica Peed Design & Production: Sam Tusha & Sam Malinski, Lime Valley Advertising, Inc. Mankato, MN Business Development: Thomas W. Flavin Phone: (310) 709-0844 E-mail: Tom-flavin@roadrunner.com Correspondence Editorial submissions and other correspondence E-mail: jppeed@gmail.com Phone: (515) 408-3763 www.avinationusa.com Advertising Phone: (515) 408-3763 E-mail: jppeed@gmail.com www.avinationusa.com Contributing Writers Aimée Bennett Carol Cali Grant Boyd Jacob Burdette Jessica Webster Jill Meyers LIFT Academy Natalie Kelley Nick Poucher Pete Parker Travis Senft Valarie Meyer

ONE WEEK CUB The week during Sun ‘n Fun, the Lakeland Aero Club will be building the first kit version of the Recruit Cub. We will be working with Patriot aircraft who manufactures the kit as well as the first factory version of the aircraft. The Recruit Cub will be the EAA sweepstakes plane this year. Throughout the week our team of high school students will 100% assemble the Recruit Cub kit, including building the engine and being ready to be covered and painted. During this build our team will be continuously creating videos that will help assist future homebuilders, flying clubs and EAA chapters with each step of this kit build. The Lakeland Aero Club hangar will be open the week through the entire expo for the public to keep up with the progress of our build as well as to check out our other projects and flying aircraft. For everyone that will be unable to make it to Sun ‘n Fun or who cannot make it to our hangar, the progress will be continuously updated on our website www.LakelandAeroClub.org as well as on our Facebook page @TheLakelandAeroClub. After Sun ‘n Fun, the Lakeland Aero Club will continue documenting the fabric and painting process once the aircraft is moved back to Patriot Aircraft. Once the Recruit Cub is ready to fly, we will begin phase 1 flight testing where we will continue creating easy to use videos to walk future builders through the steps to get your new aircraft ready to use. Following flight testing the Lakeland Aero Club will rendezvous at Patriot Aircraft in Bessemer, Alabama and continue our journey to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2021.

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Leading with Love: Strategy Guides Rescue Pilot’s Career Lt. Col. Annie Driscoll, Air Force Recruiting Service Detachment 1 Commander

by Aimée Bennett I always knew I wanted to help people. As a young adult, I just never imagined that drive would lead me to a career in aviation. I was born and raised in Bozeman, Montana, the younger of two children. After high school, I headed to Montana State University, right in Bozeman, to study mechanical engineering and biology…with the goal of helping others by designing prosthetics. THE ROTC SURPRISE During my freshman year, my brother convinced me to apply for an Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) scholarship. I decided to give it a try, as it sounded like a good fit: I’d been active in sports in high school, the time commitment was minimal, and importantly, it would pay for my education. I loved it. The ROTC program provided healthy competition – academic and physical – and a tremendously supportive group who shared common experiences and goals. I also realized I was one of very few females in either my ROTC or mechanical engineering program. To develop a group of girlfriends and have more female presence in my life, I joined a sorority. I loved that, too, and found it to be a fantastic complement to my ROTC experience and academic studies. I was beginning to recognize that viewing a challenge as an opportunity was a key to feeling fulfilled. Armed with the right attitude, I was able to not only survive, but succeed and be genuinely happy on all three fronts: ROTC, academic and social.

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MY TIPPING POINT I was enjoying college, still focused on a career in designing prosthetic devices. The summer after my freshman year, I met a retired pilot through ROTC from the local Bozeman chapter of the Daedalians, an organization of military aviators. When I mentioned that I had never considered flying, he encouraged me to give it a try. Having never flown before, I took advantage of the opportunity offered to go up in a small Cessna plane.

I went up in a Cessna. That was it. I was hooked. That was it. I was hooked. When our short flight landed, I found myself back with the gentleman who encouraged me to take the flight, raving about the beautiful mountains we traversed, the birds taking advantage of thermals to soar, and the third dimension of movement I felt in flight. What an empowering experience! Until I had an opportunity to fly, I would have never thought about aviation as a career. How grateful I am for that one conversation with someone who turned out to be my first aviation mentor. Based on that flight, I applied for, and received, a scholarship from the Daedalians to study for my private pilot’s license. By then, I knew I would stay in ROTC to serve in the military, and I knew I wanted to fly. I locked in my scholarship for the rest of college, and focused on doing everything I could do to be competitive for a pilot slot when I graduated. FIND A MISSION YOU BELIEVE IN One of the sagest pieces of advice I’ve received in my career came from a family relative who had conducted rescue missions as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. I had successfully competed against ROTC candidates around the country to earn a pilot training spot upon graduation, and was sharing with him my debate over what type of aircraft I should fly. He re-focused me quickly with wise words: Don’t choose a job based on an aircraft. Instead, pursue a mission you believe in. Then, he explained, you can then go to work every day and love what you are doing. As he talked about his most fulfilling experiences saving people in Vietnam, it clicked. I wanted to help people. I loved to fly. I read up on the rescue community, and knew that was my calling. Upon graduation from Montana State – armed with

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my degree in mechanical engineering, a minor in biology and my Air Force commission – I completed my initial pilot training, and then landed a spot in helicopter training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. During my time there, I was presented a choice for where I would go after completion of the Undergraduate Pilot Training Program. As I considered my next step, another great mentor stepped in and suggested I stay on as an instructor pilot (IP) for my first assignment. He knew me, knew my strengths and provided tremendous insight. After the 18-month program at Fort Rucker, I earned my wings as an Air Force helicopter pilot and became a First Assignment Instructor Pilot. His advice was spot-on. In that position, I obtained excellent flight experience and was given significant responsibility. Moreover, I was directly helping and influencing people. Flying was fun, but I confirmed that what made me tick was interaction with people and helping others learn to fly. DEPLOYMENT The year 2010 was a major one for me. After three years as an IP, I transitioned to the HH-60 – the helicopter platform that conducts search and rescue. I married another Air Force officer who is a fighter pilot, and we moved to RAF Lakenheath, England, for operational assignments. I jumped right into action with my first HH-60 landings supporting combat operations in Libya. Working from a British naval ship, I experienced life among joint forces for several months. Then came two deployments to Afghanistan, where I had pivotal experiences that shaped my career. There, on the other side of the world, the stunningly beautiful landscape reminded me of Montana. I was able (with the help of an interpreter) to sit down and talk with Afghani troops. I was struck by how connected we all are: how the things we loved, brought us joy and made us human were the same; and how we had similar life experiences despite speaking different languages.

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LIFT Academy, a groundbreaking aviation training institution, is creating a direct pathway to rewarding careers in the growing airline industry. Owned and operated by Republic Airways, a leading regional airline headquartered in Indianapolis, IN, LIFT offers its pilot students and maintenance technician apprentices affordable, accelerated training using the latest technology to ensure they are workforce ready. LIFT is the nation’s fastest growing program designed to prepare men and women for positions in this exciting industry.

Learn more about LIFT and our innovative pilot and maintenance technician programs at flywithlift.com, where we are turning the exploration of possibilities into reality.

MY NEXT DEFINING MOMENT Life was good. Then, during my second deployment in 2014, I was injured from an attack that destroyed a tent next to our helicopter. Wire shrapnel and other material lodged in my right leg and arm. Life changed again. Yet as hard as the injury and the resulting five surgeries have been, I’m strangely thankful that it all happened, as I was about to embark on more adventures. As I healed, my husband and I moved to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, where I was assigned to another rescue squadron. I was focused on getting up and flying again, concerned about gaining and maintaining credibility in a flying rescue squadron. Eventually, I had to accept that my injuries would not allow me to fly at that assignment and, potentially, never again. But what I learned during that time changed my mindset and life. While I was not flying, I was continuously in leadership positions. Without real-time cockpit skills to rely on and assess, I shifted to really get to know the people with whom I was working, learn what made them tick and figure out how to help them pursue their passions. At the same time, I worked to make sure others got to know me, and built trust on a personal, individual basis. LEADING WITH LOVE My time at Nellis changed how I approached leadership. When someone asks me today what my leadership strategy is, I confidently respond, “lead with love.” In rescue, a very male-dominated community, a response like that is not common. But it’s very effective – and I believe more people, male and female, are finding that it works for them. As I honed my leadership strategy, I learned first-hand that “when one door closes, another door opens.” Major General Jeannie Leavitt, then commander of Air Force Recruiting Service, recognized my core abilities and brought me to my current position a year ago. Today, I am a commander in Air Force Recruiting Service Detachment 1, located at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas. It turns out I’ve come full circle. This is the job and the mission I always wanted, but didn’t know. Our team helps inform and inspire youth who are interested in a career in Air Force aviation. Looking to increase diversity and attract the best talent, we get to reach out and connect with kids around the country. The rewards and fulfillment are immeasurable.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION: Learn more about careers in U.S. Air Force aviation and about the work Lt. Driscoll is doing now. @usaf_inspire https://www.facebook.com/usaf.inspire/ @usaf_inspire www.airforce.com Air Force Recruiting Service Detachment 1 hosts monthly “Pathway to Wings” sessions via Zoom for future aviators. These interactive gatherings discuss how to become an officer in the U.S. Air Force, aviation careers and scholarship opportunities. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of active Air Force aviators. Find details on the social media sites above.

I am, again, living my passion, interacting with and helping others, serving as part of a team and leading. And as much as I love flying, I know that I don’t need to be in a cockpit to fulfill my mission. LIVE YOUR PASSION This is my story. Yet it’s not just my story. It has been shaped by mentors, my parents, my brother, my supportive and loving husband, and my three wonderful children. Now, it’s my turn to help others find and live their passions. To anyone wondering about working in aviation, I offer two central pieces of advice. First, never let gender – or your own self – be a roadblock. I know first-hand from my experience in the Air Force that people look first at how well you are doing your job, then as an officer and last at gender. You perform your roles and responsibilities, and that’s it. If you find barriers, voice your issues to those around you whom you trust and allow them to be your advocates. Second, do whatever you can to talk with those who fly. Look for opportunities to fly. Put yourself out there – even when it’s uncomfortable – and ask questions. After all, you can’t be told “no” if you never ask.

Supporting Youth RV-12 Aircraft Build Projects and STEM Education Initiatives since 2011

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A FLY ON THE WALL On a chilly October morning a fly glided around an airport and pondered where he should venture to next. Buzzing in and out of hangars, overhearing conversations about avionics, homebuilt aircraft, and Continental engines, all the insect wished to do was soar high in the sky. Along his travels he witnessed a comical sight—a small girl struggling to close heavy hangar doors. The fly fluttered over her aircraft thinking it wiser to hitch a different ride. Abruptly, the girl climbed into the cockpit and closed the canopy, leaving no time for the fly to escape. The fly panicked, recalling stories of flies squashed while flying with young pilots. When taking in his surroundings he noticed the cross country plan on the teen’s kneeboard. He thought to himself, A cross country, how am I going to live through that! She is surely going to kill me with all that time. The fly noticed the girl talking to herself through every checklist. She was thorough in this regard, but how would her radio calls be? Student pilots always fumble on the radio. Her first radio call announcing their takeoff was good, but of course she forgot to

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by Valarie Meyer

announce their direction of departure. I wonder how she’ll interact with ATC, the fly mused nervously. The takeoff roll made the fly’s stomach drop. It wasn’t until up in the air that he understood how crazy the child was. About 10 miles out she started singing Taylor Swift to herself. Oh brother, I bet she’s going to miss a radio call from this one woman concert, thought the fly. Why can’t she just be quiet, or would the silence be worse, has she noticed me yet? All his thoughts jumbled together as he left his life in this teenage girl’s hands. After nearly a half hour of straight and level flight and horrendous singing they drew closer to their first destination. The fly landed on the radio’s knob, hoping she would take this as a signal to dial in the ATIS frequency and prepare for their first landing. “Get off the knob,” the girl said as she proceeded to tune into ATIS. “Janesville Regional Airport information Mike 1633 zulu wind 180 at 3 visibility 10 sky clear….” Did she get all that? thought the fly as the girl switched to the tower frequency. Her radio calls were sufficient; however, it was obvious that she had little experience with controllers. ATC informed her to report a 3 mile left base for runway 18.

Watching the child of the magenta line use the GPS, he saw they were only a few miles out from the field. Does she see the airport yet? Alas, I have 5,998 more eyes than she does, but she’s a pilot! He thought to himself. As they got closer the fly buzzed up to try to communicate with her. “Why are you buzzing all over the place, you frantic fly,” she said to herself. She made her radio call to Janesville tower: “Janesville Tower N915EN on a 3 mile left base for RWY 18.” So she did see the runway, thought the fly, she at least could have flown like it and stopped singing her goofy songs.

The landing was not as bad as he anticipated, but of course she needed more right rudder. With instructions from ground control they taxied to Bessie’s Diner where the girl hopped out of the plane. Freedom at last! thought the fly. In that moment he realized that he needed to have faith in the young pilot. After all he was still alive, and the girl didn’t make THAT many mistakes. He was proud of the girl for successfully completing one out of the three leg’s of her first solo cross country. He would never wish to go on a flight like this again, yet his distaste for the new generation of aviators was subdued. Away he buzzed to the restaurant where he would nestle in some $100 hamburgers and rejoice in being on the ground.

The pilot turned from base to final flying toward the runway. The fly saw the VASI and recognized that they were high. When the girl suddenly pushed the rudder in and dipped the plane into a full slip, he almost threw up.




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763,000 PILOTS AND 739,000 AVIATION MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS (AMT) ARE NEEDED WITHIN THE NEXT 20 YEARS. If you think about those numbers in terms of a city’s population, it’s the same as saying nearly every single person in Philadelphia would be hired for a job as a pilot or AMT before 2040. Simply put, that’s a lot of opportunity in the aviation industry. That means that more than 1.5 million aviation jobs will be ready for hire as most Generation Z-ers begin their career search. To add to this, COVID-19 has accelerated the projected need for talented pilots and AMTs due to paused talent engagement and early retirements. And according to Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook 2020-2039, there’s never been a better time to start flight or AMT training. The study shares, “Aspiring aviators who begin their training today will be well positioned to take advantage of new job opportunities as the industry recovers.” LIFT Academy has made significant pivots to their approach in recruitment, flight training and AMT apprenticeship programs throughout the pandemic. In order to continue to bring in new students while keeping current flight and maintenance students engaged, LIFT utilized state-of-the-art technologies and airline-readiness focused curriculum. “Fortunately, flight training innovation has been our niche since we opened our hangar doors in 2018,” Ed Bagden, Associate Director of Flight Operations and Safety, shared. “While COVID-19 wasn’t in our plans or anyone else’s, we quickly adapted to technology for our students and instructors to develop our own modern flight-training curriculum customized to the way we train our students in the aircraft.” LIFT Academy, owned and operated by Republic Airways, has grown to become one of the largest flight schools in the country with nearly 50 Diamond Aircraft and around 300 students, apprentices and instructors. “The pilot and technician shortages aren’t going to wait for us to have pilots and AMTs trained and ready for the airlines. We found a way to keep students up to speed with their training and safe while doing so,” Bagden added.

FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS Reading the headlines or scrolling through Twitter wouldn’t paint the picture of demand that you just read. But if you talk with industry experts, you’ll hear the urgency in their voice, encouraging you to sign up for that discovery flight or submit that flight school or AMT training application. Simply put, expert advice would tell you to follow your dreams in aviation. There won’t just be demand for you to fill a seat, there will be room for you to build a successful, rewarding career. A career where you can travel the world, a career that allows you to meet new people every day, a career that enables you to work with technology, troubleshooting and problem solving. And when it comes to a return on investment for the upfront cost of training, more and more scholarships are available to make it possible for aviation enthusiasts to follow their dreams. Taking the first step to applying for flight school or AMT training is intimidating, and maybe you don’t even know where to start. Reading this magazine is one great step. There are organizations out there, too, for people just like you—Experimental Aircraft Association, Triple Tree Aerodrome, Women in Aviation’s Girls in Aviation programming, and more. Most flight training schools, like LIFT Academy, offer discovery flights where you can experience a real flight to decide if you’re truly passionate about flying. Once you decide becoming a pilot or AMT is the path for you, exploring LIFT Academy and meeting with their recruitment team will put you on the runway.

For more information about LIFT Academy, please visit:



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Airport Management is a really exciting career that many young students don’t necessarily think about when pondering opportunities in aviation. It is a really awesome job, though. Not only do you get to be around airplanes and pilots all day long, but some airports are so big that it’s like running a small city! Less than 20% of airport managers are women, and I would like to introduce you to some very special ladies in this exciting career field. But first, an overview of airports and the airport manager career. There are many different kinds and sizes of airports. In the United States, there are about 13,000 airports and 4,000 heliports (landing sites for helicopters). You may be surprised to find out that only 5,000 of these facilities are used by the public and only about 650 airports are served by commercial airlines! Most of the nation’s airports are used for General and Business Aviation. As an example, I live in New Mexico and if I asked you to look at a map and guess how many airports we have across the state, you may guess a number between 8 and 10. Well, there are actually 60 airports in New Mexico ranging from our largest airport, the Albuquerque International Sunport (airport code ABQ), to tiny dirt strips like Lindrith Airpark (E32). Another interesting fact is that airports can be owned by municipalities, cities, counties, or states, and some are operated as privately owned businesses. Airport managers oversee the daily operations of an airport, ranging from enforcing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations to negotiating airport contracts and leases. They may be responsible for supervising personnel, devising and implementing operating procedures, monitoring airport financial expenditures, and coordinating construction or renovation projects with municipal officials. Because of their level of responsibility, airport managers may be on-call so that emergencies or other unexpected issues that come up can be resolved quickly; this job can include evening and weekend shifts.

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Airport managers usually hold a bachelor’s degree in airport management or a related field. These 4-year degree programs cover aviation science, aerodynamics, and physics, as well as airport economics, finance, and management. Students also take classes in FAA regulations, aviation safety, and air transportation operations. Some aviation management programs offer flight courses to prepare students for the FAA private pilot certification exam. Internship opportunities with government agencies, local airports, or commercial airlines may be offered as well.


Let’s introduce you to some of our nation’s finest women in airport management positions. Chellie Cameron is CEO of the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and the smaller Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE). Ms. Cameron oversees the management of airport personnel including approximately 800 Division of Aviation employees and 200 members of the Police and Fire Departments, among others. Before joining PHL, Ms. Cameron had 13 years’ experience working for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) in Washington, DC. Her experience also includes seven years as an active-duty officer in the United States Air Force and one year as an Air Force civilian employee.

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Across the country in California, Kimberly Becker is President/CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, owner and operator of San Diego International Airport (SAN). Her career in aviation and airport management spans more than 30 years. Prior to joining the Airport Authority, Ms. Becker served as Director of Aviation for the Mineta KIM BECKER San Jose International Airport (SJC) from 2013-2017. Before that, she held increasingly responsible positions in San Jose for 18 years, including Chief Operating Officer and Assistant Director of Aviation. Earlier in her career, Ms. Becker held operations and environmental positions at Teterboro Airport, NJ (TEB) and at the Lockheed Air Terminal in California, now called the Hollywood Burbank Airport (KBUR).


I was very lucky to have the opportunity to interview two of my friends who work in airport management but in very different and diverse capacities. Nyika Allen is not only the youngest Director of Aviation in the country (having been appointed to the role when she was 27 years old), but she is also the first millennial to lead a City of Albuquerque department and the first woman to serve as Director of the Department of Aviation.

Meadow Chase has a very unique airport management job in that she owns her own company called Chase Airport Management. Meadow is a contract airport manager with responsibility to manage two General Aviation airports in San Diego County, Ramona Airport (RNM) and Fallbrook Community Airpark (L18). I interviewed Nyika and Meadow together during MEADOW CHASE a Zoom session in January. The best way to share their amazing stories and perspectives with our readers is to provide excerpts of the interview.

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JILL: NYIKA AND MEADOW, TELL US WHAT YOUR ROLE IS, AND THE SCOPE OF YOUR ROLE, SINCE YOU MANAGE VERY DIFFERENT KINDS OF AIRPORTS. MEADOW: I have Ramona and Fallbrook, and what’s different about them is that the airport management staff is contracted through the County. I do have my company, Chase Airport Management, that manages the two and supplies the staffing. NYIKA: You’re lucky - you get your own private sector airport there! You don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy… well, maybe not as much! MEADOW: As far as the flow of the company, it’s a lot less bureaucratic because it’s obviously just me! The airports are General Aviation use. To give you an idea of size, Fallbrook has about 21,000 operations a year. Ramona is a little bit different, typically with around 120,000 operations, and it also has Cal Fire and the Forest Service. NYIKA: Our General Aviation airport, Double Eagle II, has one Fixed Base Operator (FBO) and some companies onsite, and is actually a busy little airport with some military use. Our main airport, the Albuquerque International Sunport, is actually a joint use facility with Kirtland Air Force Base but we maintain the whole airfield. It’s the largest airport in New Mexico, and I think one of the great joys of our state. It’s such a unique little airport. It’s really historic and you can see the culture of Albuquerque and New Mexico shine through. Before COVID we had about 5 million passengers a year, with nine commercial airlines. We have two FBOs at the Sunport, Cutter Aviation and Atlantic, and we manage about 250 active contracts and leases, and our budget is around $50M per year. JILL: I REMEMBER THE DAY I MET YOU, NYIKA, ABOUT FIVE MONTHS AFTER YOU STARTED THIS JOB IN 2018. I KNOW THIS JOB IS YOUR FIRST IN AVIATION – TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU DID BEFORE THIS? NYIKA: I didn’t know anything about airports when I started in this job! And it took me a full two years to really get into it, and I still learn new things every single day and am not done learning. Before this, I was running a really small non-profit called the New Mexico Technology Council. I did lobbying for the technology industry and workforce development. But my love for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) has helped me in aviation and in this role.

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JILL: MEADOW, TELL US HOW YOU GOT INTO AVIATION. MEADOW: When I was around 14 years old, I watched the movie “Top Gun” and turned to my dad and said, “I really want to be a pilot!”, and he said to go for it! But I didn’t quite know how to get my foot in the door and didn’t know how to get into aviation. I started volunteering at an air museum in Ramona at the age of 16, and on my second day there, a job came available refueling tanker aircraft at the local FBO. And through networking, it kind of snowballed into getting into airport management. JILL: TELL US ABOUT YOUR FLYING, MEADOW! MEADOW: I do not leave this airport! Obviously! I did my flight training here, got my first job here, and got this job. I worked on my private pilot’s rating and am now working on my instrument which has been quite the journey. I’m sure you can relate, Nyika, that with this job, finding the time for anything is so hard. I’ve been working on my instrument rating for 2-3 years and am getting close to the end, finally. And then I’ll go for my commercial rating. JILL: WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? MEADOW: Nyika, I think you could probably agree with me on this – I think the people are absolutely amazing. I mean, you meet so many people. It’s kind of like a family. NYIKA: Yeah. Amazing people, even in other parts of the industry like at the airlines, or dealing with the FBOs, pilots, and getting to meet you! I love my staff too. Comprehensively, I’ve never met a team of harder working people that all are working towards the same goal. So, I agree with you, Meadow! I also love the amount of innovation I can bring into my job. JILL: AND WHAT THINGS ARE THE HARDEST AND MOST CHALLENGING? NYIKA: There is a lot of bureaucracy working for the city. I am always jealous of airport directors who work in private industry or for an airport authority. But there’s not really anything I don’t like about my job. Some days are harder than others and some emotionally taxing. MEADOW: Some people have a perception about women in aviation, especially young women. So as a young woman with an already challenging job, there are some more challenges that might be faced,

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specifically in that not everyone may believe you can do the job, or they think that it came easy to you or is easy for you. JILL: WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO YOUNG PEOPLE READING THIS ARTICLE WHO MAY WANT TO GET INTO AIRPORT MANAGEMENT? NYIKA: My first advice is to use your connections and network. Also, I think when you are young and not as certain of your exact path yet… let’s just say that I was a “yes” girl. I said yes to everything, which meant I got to try a lot of stuff and meet a lot of people, and it got my name out there. As I got older, then, I finally was able to say “no” and properly curate my life and say “OK, I didn’t like that”, and therefore you never have to agree to it again. But you try it once and see what you think of it, and then you can start to shift and make changes to your life, and that’s how you build the life that you want to have. If you already know what you want to do, that’s awesome, but I never was that person. My advice is never be scared to do anything, because you can make yourself as big as you want to be. MEADOW: So, I’m kind of the opposite of you, Nyika! I wouldn’t say I’m a “yes” person. Obviously, I will do anything for my job. No task, I believe, is too small or too insignificant. I’m not a “no” person, but when I had an idea to go into aviation, I was going to be a pilot. That’s all I was going to be, but financially, that’s a lot of money. I was hesitant to try anything that wasn’t flying. So, when I got my first job as a lineman, fueling aircraft, I absolutely loved it. And the same thing happened when I was offered a job as assistant airport operations, which I wasn’t sure I wanted either. My advice would be to be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. Be willing to start somewhere that you don’t see yourself starting. Because it’s actually really hard sometimes to break away from what you originally had in mind in aviation. NYIKA: I love how ours are completely opposite – I think that’s so cool, because it does show how you can be coming from two different spots. You were so focused and I was so unfocused, and how we’ve been able to come together and now do such similar things. MEADOW: I think so too! JILL: IS THERE ANYTHING WE DIDN’T COVER? NYIKA: I want to encourage more women. We are all shattering glass ceilings. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something.

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What’s New:

Aerospace Center for Excellence

by: Carol Cali

The Lakeland, Florida-based Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) is on course for a stellar 2021. Having to make a hard pivot as did many non-profits in 2020, the organization is focused on completing its new facility, Project SkyLab, and rolling out its spring and summer programs immediately following the annual SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo in April. ACE has maintained its leadership position in creating teenage private pilots of which 121 have earned their wings through the ACE Scholarship program to date. In keeping with ACE’s mission to Engage, Educate, and Accelerate the Next Generation of Aerospace Professionals, there are STEM learning opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Destination Aviation Summer Camp returns as an on-campus program for 11-18-year olds. This innovative flightcentric activity is an immersive one-week experience that features a robust hands-on aerospace lineup including meteorology, aircraft restoration projects, ground school, field trips and flight opportunities (as available) for campers. The camps are designed to build upon themselves, starting with a basic understanding of the aerospace industry and moving towards more in-depth and focused aviation curriculum. What campers learn and experience in one camp helps them further their knowledge in the next. Details and dates for Camp Charlie, Bravo and Alpha are on the ACE website, ACEedu.aero. SUN ‘n

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FUN’s youth camps have a track-record of engaging students that go on to become the pilots, engineers, and maintainers of tomorrow. ACE will be offering 50% discounts to attend Destination Aviation during the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo. Be sure to visit the STEMFusion tent onsite for more information. STEMTastic Day Camp for younger aviationadventurers will return in 2022. Check the website, ACEedu.aero in the future for more information about this program for younger aspiring aerospace candidates. Can’t wait for the summer? ACE has educational videos available on its website for anyone to enjoy. Checkout last year’s Virtual Destination Aviation 18part series. Produced in conjunction with GLEIM, this virtual series delivered the of basics flight instruction, aviation-based field trips, and interviews with various aviation professionals. These videos are available on the website at ACEedu.aero/summer-camps/virtualdestination-aviation/ or YouTube. Students can also check out STEMChats, an educational video series created by ACE’s own instructors. The lineup includes hands-on activities, understanding the world of flight, and a “day in the job” segment showcasing various aviation-based careers. This video series is available at ACEedu.aero/stem-chats.

As 2021 progresses, many of the 20-30 unique ACE programs will be restarted including workshops for educators, first flight opportunities for students, museum programs, and more. Keep an eye on ACE’s social sites and website for the latest updates. Project SkyLab, the 22,000 sq. ft. expansion that increases the Florida Air Museum’s footprint to 60,000 sq. ft., is targeted for completion this summer and will feature a state-of-the-art STEM Innovation Center. SkyLab will be a gathering hub of emerging technologies that includes 5 classrooms to accommodate daily, multiple school field trips. The new facility will add exciting opportunities for student engagements using evolving technology such as holographic projection, real-world laboratory learning experiences, and more. Be sure to schedule a visit to the Florida Air Museum located on the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus to see for yourself the exciting learning tools that have been added via SkyLab. Engaging over 50,000 students a year through onsite activities and outreach programs, the addition of SkyLab will enable the ACE staff to increase the quality of its programming for even more students in a dynamic learning laboratory environment. You can donate to SkyLab and other ACE initiatives by visiting ACEedu.aero/donate/. For those with physical disabilities and a passion of flight, the Spirit of Lakeland, a specially designed student-built Zenith 750 Cruzer experimental aircraft will enable them to take to the skies. This new ACE program was slowed during COVID, but the commitment to complete the custom-built aircraft in order to continue the joint-venture with ABLE Flight remains intact. The aircraft is in the certification phase and is expected to be flying very soon. The program will be taking on student pilots later in 2021. The aerospace industry’s growth hasn’t slowed and neither has ACE. The organization is committed to providing educational programming and scholarships that prepare tomorrow’s aerospace professionals as well as provide aviation experiences for all individuals including those with challenges. A complete overview of all of the ACE programs are listed on their website. At the Aerospace Center for Excellence, the sky is just the beginning! About Aerospace Center for Excellence, Inc.: The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has emerged as a nationally recognized leader in STEM-related and aerospace education through its various learning centers, outreach programs, summer camps and scholarships aimed at preparing students for tomorrow’s aerospace challenges. Located on the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus in Lakeland, Florida, the organization is known for its annual SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo fundraising event as well as the Florida Air Museum, which is Florida’s Official Aviation Museum and Education Center. ACE is the world’s leader in producing licensed teenage private pilots and delivers youth programs that engage over 50,000 students a year. For more information, ACEedu.aero.



Cole Harris:


Oftentimes, people have the tendency to focus their attention on immediate and ultimate goals, disregarding entirely how much they can better themselves in a period of say five to ten years. Cole Harris is no stranger to a high amount of personal growth over a relatively short time period, having gone from a sixteen-year-old kid with no interest in aviation to President of a growing aircraft maintenance facility in only seven short years. Harris notes that the industry was something that he kind of fell into. Prior to his junior year of high school, his parents briefly mentioned the Central Florida Aerospace Academy (Kathleen High School, Polk County Schools) and its track record for being a school that prepares its graduates well for the world after graduation, whether they pursue a career in aviation or something else. Based upon this conversation and thinking that “airplanes are pretty cool,” he decided to apply to be a part of the program and began classes in the fall

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of 2013. He quickly became immersed in his curriculum and worked to learn as much as he could about aircraft, as well as their systems and operations. His first aviation-related goals were directly related to flying aircraft. Shortly after beginning the program, Harris was chosen as a recipient for the James C. Ray Flight Training Scholarship, (merit related to good grades and other factors) which provides funds to high school students who are pursuing their Private Pilot Certificate. Flying a Breezer aircraft, he soloed after roughly twenty-four hours and then went on to pass the FAA written exam and checkride the December of his Senior Year. During this period, Harris was concurrently working towards gaining knowledge related to aircraft maintenance. Outside of the classroom, he improved his mechanical skills in a practical manner through hands-on work at the Lakeland Aero Club, where the group was at the time restoring a 1953 Piper Super Cub. Fabric work was the burgeoning mechanic’s favorite part of the restoration, something which he enjoys to this day.

E C N A N E T N IN MAI Additionally, he notes that the work of “becoming a mechanic made him a better pilot,” while being a pilot allowed him to have a deeper understanding of the maintenance side of aircraft-a “win-win” situation. Upon graduation, Harris was well into his newfound goal of gaining his A&P certification and began working at a local maintenance facility, Aircraft Engineering, Inc., full-time as a mechanic. Here, Harris was able to gain experience on a wide variety of general aviation aircraft and learn more about the business of providing exemplary customer service. Related to this was the ability to combine flight with mechanics, by having the ability to transport customers to their homebase from the maintenance facility in Bartow, FL whenever there was an extended downtime anticipated for their aircraft. By this, Harris was able to get “quite a few” more hours in his logbook (PIC) in their 180 horsepower Cessna 172. After three and a half years working with that organization and being a newly minted A&P mechanic, Harris transitioned to working at two separate maintenance facilities over the subsequent year, in which at the culmination he was chosen by another local company as their Director of Maintenance. Beginning as DOM in August of 2019 at Wilco Aircraft

by Grant Boyd

Services, which specializes in maintenance on aerial imaging camera planes, Harris honed his management skills, as well as gained a better understanding for the maintenance business as a whole and “how to run a shop from a business perspective.” The experiences Harris had during his years working on various aircraft for a litany of customers led him to supporting them in a new role; maintenance facility owner. In December 2020, Central Florida Aircraft Services opened its hangar doors at Lakeland Linder International Airport (KLAL) with one simple mission: to provide exceptional maintenance services to the general aviation community. In less than half a year, the business has already seen the shop floor at close to full capacity throughout most of the time. Much of this can be attributed to its founder’s positive image within the local aviation industry, largely in part to his honesty and attention to small details, even those that are easily overlooked by other facilities. For instance, Harris prides himself on detailing each customer’s aircraft after their service, something he says many other shops neglect to do. “Although I am not a professional detailer, the small things matter, and it is important for me to see an aircraft fly away from our hangar looking the best that it can. We vacuum the interior, clean the exterior, and do other related tasks to ensure the owner is impressed when they pick their aircraft back up.”



Cole Harris: E M A IN T A IN IN G A F U T U R IN M A IN T E N A N C E Central Florida Aircraft Services provides a variety of services, from annual inspections to refurbishments, and much more. Serviced aircraft have included: several Air Cams, Cessna 172’s, an RV6, a Champ, Beechcraft Barons, quite a few Piper Cubs (which Harris has become a specialist of sorts), Twin Comanches, a Cessna Citation CJ3, and others. There have already been several memorable events at the shop. One of these was an annual that was performed on a Piper PA-32R-300 which ultimately required a right-side wing replacement. The work on the aircraft lasted roughly forty hours and included a spar corrosion inspection, an annual, and reskinning of the removed wing section. Harris was thankful for this experience, as he was able to perform something he hadn’t previously in his other roles (performing a wing removal). Currently billing at $95.00 an hour for shop services, the company has positioned itself well against competing shops in the area and beyond. Harris notes that much of the shop’s current success has been related to word of mouth from past clients in his previous roles, and those who have either transitioned to being serviced by his shop or are first time customers. Other marketing activities predominantly relate to the company’s social media presence, where on Facebook and Instagram prospective customers and others can see status updates from the shop floor and other notable information. Carving his own path within the industry has been a welcome challenge for Harris, who has continued support from family members and mentors alike. Currently, he does most of the wrench turning himself, and is occasionally assisted by others, which he estimates will change in early 2021. The goal is for the company to grow by two or three mechanics this year. Currently there is an IA on staff who signs off on all work, but Harris himself will be taking his Inspector Authorization test with the FAA in July of this year.

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Additionally, Harris’ girlfriend Emily Wenglarz acts as the Office and Business Manager, ensuring that the company’s operational tasks are handled smoothly. On top of employee growth, another goal is to grow revenue towards profitability in the first half of 2021, which lays the groundwork for other milestones to come to fruition thereafter. Some of these business goals include billing more hours from turbine aircraft, which is supported by Harris’ future plan of going to PT6 maintenance training school and purchasing an aircraft for the business to be used for various purposes. This aircraft, likely a Cessna 170, would be the bridge between Harris’ short-term plans for the business and its ideal future, with a fleet of turbine aircraft used for charter flights and others for primary instruction. Harris intends to continue gaining additional flight ratings, as well, and is currently working towards his Instrument Rating with Commercial and CFI coming thereafter. As far as words of advice to the “younger” generation, Harris notes that mechanics (or any aviation professional, for that matter) should not undervalue themselves, or rather, have others hold their value down. This is derived from seeing others in maintenance and other similar roles who have tied themselves down and are barring themselves from reaching their potential within the industry. Another nugget of wisdom is for those interested in aviation to explore the possibility of a career in maintenance, especially as the current industry leaders will soon age out and retire-leaving ample opportunity for motivated professionals. Central Florida Aircraft Services is situated towards the Northeast corner in the “Lake Hangar” at Lakeland Linder International Airport (KLAL). The company can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cfaircraftservices/ and contacted via email at jecoleharris@gmail.com or via phone at 863-640-3603.


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My Name is Travis Senft and I would like to share with you my journey in becoming a pilot at the age of seventeen and soloing the plane before I could drive myself to the airport for my flight lessons. While you might think my journey started by taking flying lessons at my local airport in Burlington, Wisconsin, it actually starts much earlier. It started before I ever buckled up for my first flying lesson. My journey starts as far back as I can remember learning about hard work and perseverance. I joined Cub Scouts at my local grade school in Wheatland, Wisconsin when I was seven. Here I gained many new friends and learned from many adult leaders. My friends and I learned many life skills while in the Cub Scouts. We learned about citizenship, community service and Scout skills such as swimming, hiking, and fishing. The Cub Scout experience helped to build my confidence and work ethic. Once we reached our final rank of Arrow of Light award, we joined Troop 381 Boy Scouts of America. Here again I was surrounded with everlasting friendship and leaders that were strict, tough, and always fair. I started to learn that hard work matters. I also learned about, cooking, first aid, wilderness survival and earned over 40 merit badges in a variety of subjects. I also was charged with responsibilities and learned leadership skills. My experience in Scouts

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helped to shape my character and provided me with a great foundation. I’ve been taught to value hard work. My education has always been important. I worked hard in grade school and earned good grades. In high school, I’ve been on the honor roll consistently. While this might not seem important as it relates to my journey to becoming a pilot, it has affected the opportunities that opened up while being on the journey. I set goals and look for opportunities. Never let an opportunity pass you by. I have learned this lesson throughout my life and it is a guiding principle I live by. The other principles I live by are “Always be prepared” and “Do a good deed daily”. Most people will recognize the last two as being from the Boy Scouts. By living out these principals, I was able to earn my rank as an Eagle Scout at the age of fifteen. I

AT SEVENTEEN am very proud of this achievement. I know the value of hard work, but I also like to have fun. I was part of a state and national champion water ski show team, the Brown’s Lake Auqaducks. I skied with the team for five years performing in shows as a trick skier, doubles partner, and barefoot skier. I currently participate as a varsity shooter on the Westosha Central High School Trap Team. Our team is nearly always ranked as a top team in the state of Wisconsin and has finished at a high ranking at the national level. So how does all this contribute to me achieving my FAA private pilot’s license at seventeen? Hard work matters and “Always be prepared”, I have been around airplanes all my life and many people reading this article might say it was fate or I was given an opportunity that others might not have. I can tell you that some of that is true but, with hard work and by taking advantage of opportunities, anyone with ambition can also be on a journey to becoming a pilot. Here are some of my insights as a seventeen year old, hanging around the airport. You’d be amazed how easy it is to get a ride. You could attend a Young Eagles’ flight event or, if you see a hangar open, politely ask the person to teach you about his/her plane. Be open to learning new things. Ask for a ride. Work hard. Ask if you can help around the hangar or airport. Find yourself a great flight instructor. My flight instructor was Mr. Ferguson. He is an Army veteran. He flew helicopters for the Army. Side note: If you ever meet a veteran, thank him for his/her service. When you hear the National anthem, stop, remove your hat and face the flag with your right hand over

the heart. Be respectful. Okay back to the journey; listen to your flight instructor, do your homework before each flight, and be prepared for each lesson. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be dedicated to achieving your goal. You might have to put other things on hold for a while until your flight lessons are completed. You can only fly when the weather is good and your flight instructor is available so flying should be your top priority when the weather and schedules coincide. Study daily. There is a lot of information to learn. You don’t need to learn it all in one day. Study little bits each day. Have fun. You’re flying a plane. This is super cool and you should always end the lesson with a smile on your face even though not every lesson will be perfect. With practice your flying will get better. Now that I am a pilot, my journey has only just begun. I now enjoy flying for fun and adventure. Some of these adventures include flying to pancake breakfasts, flying to airports for lunch, and flying to explore new areas of the surrounding states. I fly to many airports with my dad and we often borrow the airport car to go hiking. We also arrange to camp at the airport. Hint: Never camp under the beacon. It is loud and keeps you up all night. These adventures have quickly filled my logbook. I now have over 100 hours of flight time eight months after becoming a pilot. I plan to become a professional pilot. I will be starting my senior year of high school next year and I plan to go to college to become a professional pilot. I also started an awesome job last summer at Burlington Air Center at the Burlington airport in Wisconsin. Burlington Air Center is a high quality, full service,



FAA approved, part 145 repair station that has been in business for over 30 years. I work there as an aircraft technician. I work with a great bunch of people that are willing to take the time to teach me how to service many different types of aircraft. I would like to show my appreciation to: Jake the owner, Cody: my boss, Jessica the real boss of the shop, Eric, Sam, Joe, Bob, Paul, Derek, Brett, and Logan. Thanks for being patient with me and teaching me to be a great technician. Take your own journey. Don’t be afraid of hard work. Success will not come overnight. Always keep opportunities in front of you. Never let an opportunity pass you by. Always be prepared. Do a good deed daily. Always be respectful. Stand for the National Anthem and thank a veteran. Becoming a pilot is an attainable goal, it just takes determination and hard work. I Hope to read about your journey to becoming a pilot someday.

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By: Jacob Burdette (2020 FMA Solo Program Scholarship Recipient & Kent State Freshman) Hello everyone! My name is Jacob Burdette and I was one of the Flying Musician Association scholarship recipients of 2020. I am currently a freshman at Kent State University majoring in Aeronautics with a Professional Pilot concentration. In addition, I plan on adding a minor in Unmanned Aircraft Systems. With this minor, I will be able to analyze various aspects of unmanned aerial systems operations, including safety, certification, applications, trends, regulations and performance. Kent State has one of the best aeronautics programs in the country, offering plenty of concentrations like Professional Pilot, Air Traffic Control, and Aviation Management, just to name a few. With all of the classes offered in the College of Aeronautics at Kent State, I will become a very wellrounded pilot because I will have a background in many different aspects of aviation. Kent State has the largest fleet of any collegiate program in Ohio with over 30 planes, in addition to being AABI accredited, a partner school for the Delta Propel program, and having connections with multiple regional and charter airlines, including Endeavor Air and Republic Airways. The location of Kent State has been the perfect place to learn how to fly because it is located near Lake Erie and multiple larger airports that I can fly to and practice various maneuvers. I will get to fly in all types of weather from freezing cold windy days, to calm clear days.

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There will be nothing I haven’t experienced weather-wise once I finish my flight training at Kent. All of the professors and flight instructors at Kent want to see you succeed. They will work with you and figure out how you learn best in order to guide you to becoming a prepared, professional, and confident pilot. Kent State has given me the opportunity to explore and learn more about my passion for aviation and flight, while even continuing to perform and make beautiful music. Being a scholarship recipient for The Flying Musicians Association has provided me with more resources than I could have ever imagined that have really helped throughout my flight training, and I am extremely grateful for everything. In addition to the generous scholarship, high quality flight gear, and the awesome swag, they have provided me with a gigantic support system that have two of the same passions as I do: music and flying. For every blog post I’ve made on their website, I get so much support, words of encouragement, and advice for my private pilot journey and beyond. I know that if I have a question about anything, there is someone in our association that will be able to help me. John Zapp has encouraged me multiple times to reach out to him if I ever need anything, and I know he is genuinely happy to help, along with everyone else in the group. All of the support keeps me motivated and excited to pursue my dreams as a professional pilot.

Once Covid is done, I hope that I will be able to meet some of the awesome members of The Flying Musicians Association, and maybe even perform with them. It has been an honor to be part of this amazing organization and I hope to stay involved throughout my entire flying career, so I can help others as much as they have helped me. While at Kent State, I made my first solo flight in a Cessna 152 after 16 hours of training. The feeling of accomplishment I felt after this flight was unlike anything else I have ever experienced. When I told my friends and family that I flew a plane by myself, they were all so impressed, and many of them were surprised that you can fly alone so early in your career. To me, this was a big moment in my journey in aviation. Soloing for the first time made me more confident in my abilities of becoming a commercial pilot. Since then, I have had the chance to fly solo multiple other times and the feeling of accomplishment never seems to fade. I get asked if I am scared to fly alone as a student pilot, but my answer is always no. In all of my solo flights, I don’t have time to be nervous because that could cause an accident. I find myself to be more focused because I don’t have my instructor in the right seat to answer questions for me, so I have no choice but to think harder and remain confident in my decisions. Since the beginning of my training, I have been taught how to deal with emergencies like an engine failure in case one were to happen while I was flying, so I am ready to take on any challenge flying may throw at me. In addition to my flight training, I am so lucky to be continuing my passion for music in Kent State’s Wind Ensemble and Marching Band. I knew that no matter where I went for college, they had to have a music program because music is such a big part of my life. I simply can’t imagine life without it. Because of Covid, Wind Ensemble has not been able to meet. Instead, we are doing small chamber groups. Right now, I am in a brass quintet playing trumpet with four other talented players. Marching band was also very different this year when compared to years past because there were no fans allowed in the stadium, but I was extremely grateful for the chance to perform with the whole band.

Even though my freshman year of college isn’t how it typically should be, I am making the most of it by staying involved in music and joining Alpha Eta Rho, which is the professional flight fraternity. Even though we have not had the chance to do much yet, I am excited knowing that I will be able to make many beneficial connections and even form another support system. I look forward to meeting new people, going on adventures to new airports, and performing not only in the cockpit, but also on the field, and Kent State will allow me to do all of these. Overall, Kent State seems to be the perfect fit for me, and I can’t wait to see what my next three years have to offer.

We were very lucky at Kent State to not only have football, but for the marching band to be able to go to some of the games and perform a socially distanced half-time show. I plan on staying in both the marching band and wind ensemble for all four years I am at Kent, because music never fails to alleviate my stress, allow me to express myself and bring joy to others.




Get a Mentor & Get Involved by Jessica Webster Hello, friends! Aviation has been my life-long love and I wanted to share my experience with you in order to help you overcome some hurdles and avoid certain struggles. I founded Hera Aviation Group when I received a phone call that forever changed the course of my life. I might not have realized it right at that moment, but a genesis for this organization, and a movement to cultivate change in my industry, was already wheels up. My story began at twelve years old, on the wing of a P3 Orion, surrounded by its crew, proudly watching the Blue Angels thunder by overhead. I could feel the afterburners rumble inside my body. I had arrived, and aviation was going to be my forever love. In the years following, I chased my dream across many countries. I worked at several fixed-base operators, both in America and the United Kingdom, in different jobs to be close to aviation and any potential opportunities. I studied at airports and cleaned airplanes for flight time, which funded my pilot’s licenses. It was hard work. In England, I completed an ATPL ground school course, which led to employment at a flight school. I worked in an air charter department that operated Citations and Hawkers in Cambridge, United Kingdom,

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to gain international experience. While living overseas, I also co-piloted a Chieftain, delivering passengers and cargo across Europe, as well as flying medevac flights when helicopters could not accommodate. When I came home, I went back to college and graduated with high honors. I became a flight instructor, a flight team coach, an adjunct faculty member, and eventually a multi-type-rated jet pilot. These experiences were hard-fought. I gained valuable international exposure operating in dynamic and challenging flight conditions.

humanly possible. I took any trips I was asked to - I worked harder than hard. I hadn’t gotten a class date yet but assured I was next. Then the day came. I was flying with one of my favorite people in the world, who happened to be one of my training captains. We talked about the upgrade, and his face squinted like he wanted to say something but probably shouldn’t. I forced the thought out of his brain, and then I heard it. “They’re not going to upgrade you, Jess. You should talk with them.” I couldn’t breathe. Did I do something wrong? I got through the days flying, got home, and looked at the data. I never called in sick. I was flying as many trips as my colleagues, more than some—excellent relationships with my crew. No incidents. Stellar training records. Happy passengers. It was my turn. So, after some time, I thought about how I wanted to approach this sensitive issue. I picked up the thousand-pound phone. “Well, you see Jess, you’re great, but we just can’t take the risk. You have a son at home who needs you, and you’re a mom now.”

But in the quiet moments, when I reflected, I noticed a difference. I was different. As one of the only women around the FBO, people mistook me for cabin crew: not the pilot who I was or the pilot I had worked so hard to become. The pilots’ lounge was a dark room filled with sleeping guys and sports on TV. They shared jokes that were either overtly sexist or hidden when I walked into the room. They treated me differently. It didn’t feel that good. I have also experienced the gut-wrenching occurrence of listening to a keyed mic declaring “Empty Kitchen!” after responding to ATC on the radio at FL410. I’ve also met amazing women and men who taught me and mentored me, and made me feel normal. They treated me with respect, and I had the absolute pleasure to fly with them. I learned a lot about flying as the years passed. But throughout my journey, I kept coming up against this THING. I didn’t even know what to call it? How do we name this thing? It’s hard to catch in parts of conversations and no one wants to talk about it. I didn’t either. Then it happened. I had my first child. I was slated for upgrade to captain at one of the companies I contracted for, so I got back to work as soon as

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I’d love to tell you I championed that conversation. That I eloquently defended myself. I don’t even remember much of what happened after that, like trying to recall what Charlie Brown’s teacher said. I reminded them of the facts, their promise to me, and asked if they would reconsider. But they would not. For some time after that conversation, I cried. And I cried. I was humiliated. I had been exposed to a truth I didn’t even know was mine. How could having a child change my career path without me choosing? I didn’t even know this happened in my industry. But it does. Just not usually so overtly. Thinking back to that call, where I had all my doubts, worries, and suspicions confirmed, I knew I had to create the change. I started researching and asking and listening. I found thousands of caregivers, minorities, and women living shared experiences from different walks of life experiencing similar outcomes. The more I listened, the more I questioned. With encouragement from my tribe and friends in the industry, I applied for and was awarded a scholarship from Bombardier Aerospace through Women in Aviation International that allowed me to complete my captain upgrade and my Air Transport Pilot certificate. I also earned a pretty cool type rating in a Learjet 45, too! I founded Hera three years later.


All three areas need support to create a true cultural shift but I am going to focus on finding a mentor, because that is what is important when you are young. With the individual, we provide mentoring and support. Hera has a mentorship program to assist caregivers in navigating our industry and growing in their professions. What is a caregiver? A caregiver is someone who looks after someone else’s wellbeing. It can be a child, parent, friend, or anyone who needs assistance beyond what they can do for themselves. Caregivers can network with each other through Hera’s mentorship program. We also provide initiatives to source funding for career maintenance and growth. Mentors are critical to women’s success in our industry, and there is a lack of them when we become caregivers. There are many benefits to having a mentor in aviation, but the most important are: 1. Increased retention and recruitment 2. Improved sense of confidence and well-being 3. More promotions! The importance of mentorship is critical when a life shift happens: namely, primary caregiving. Whether it is with a family member who needs our care or our newly formed mini-humans, that changes the scope of our responsibilities and focus. But it is often a time in our lives when we become penalized professionally by it and isolated from our traditional relationships with our professions. I want to change that. It is not adequate for the growth of our industry. Caregivers deserve to be valued and supported through that work. We deserve to be celebrated for that added life experience!

mentorship includes “more promotions, higher wages, greater job satisfaction, and an increased sense of confidence and well-being by the protégé. More importantly, mentoring has been shown to increase recruitment and retention among underrepresented populations in traditionally male dominated industries.” (The Role of Mentoring in the Careers of Female Airline Transport Pilots, Paul E. Cline, P.1) At Hera Aviation Group, we focus on providing an innate value for our network that is not found elsewhere. We match mentees with mentors who experienced the life work that our mentee would like support through. It is a unique sacred process. Then, Hera empowers them to develop their mutual connections organically. THAT IS THE BEAUTY OF MENTORING- IT IS SIMPLE. IT IS FREE. IT WORKS. And the best way to give back after receiving a positive mentorship is to pay it forward and provide your expertise and life experiences to someone else. We often owe what we have to those who came before us and we should always pull up those who are behind us. I hope that after reading a small part about the soul of the Hera Aviation Group, you will endeavor to walk with us: to empower individuals, cultivate change, and transform our industry…because you are NEXT. This is a chance to make things better before you are in the thick of it. Please also know that if you ever need help along the way, Hera is here for you. Jessica is a mom, partner, pilot, and the Founder & President of Hera Aviation Group. She enjoys long flights in Class A Airspace interacting with one ATC at a time. She also loves to laugh with her grandmother, watch reality TV, dance with her Littles, drink a Starbucks that has a ridiculously long drink order, and shop for really cool trainers. She loves the sky but her truly happy place is on the water.

Moreover, we must recognize that added challenge and help others navigate it. That is dedicated mentorship. Furthermore, that aspect of my life makes me a way better pilot too! Hera’s passion is with connection. Mentorship. Specifically, informal- meaning there is no precise end date or formal process. Statistically, this type of



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MATANUSKA SUSITNA HIGH SCHOOL The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MSBSD) prepares all students for success. One of the ways we prepare our students for successful futures in the aviation industry is through the Transportation Pathway of our Career and Technical Education (CTE) program of study in Aviation Technology. The aviation industry has incredible opportunity for students, with high job demand and high wages. Stewart Systems, LLC, has entered into an industry partnership with the MSBSD to become the exclusive provider of fabric covering materials for our Airframes Technology course. Stewart Systems meets our programmatic needs for an advanced, high quality waterborne covering system that is non-hazardous for our students and the environment. Not only is the system safe to use, but it is also easy to use and durable. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), under SA01734SE, has approved the use of Stewart Systems products to refinish and repair aircraft which employ other covering systems. This compatibility with a large number of other systems allows the MSBSD to provide students with valuable training which utilizes all of the skills, techniques and processes of other approved fabric systems, but without the need for using harsh chemicals or the extra cost associated with stocking materials for the other systems. All these benefits make Stewart Systems the clear choice for our aviation fabric cover training needs.





By: Natalie Kelley Nobi Buntin is the most recent recipient of the $4,000 flyGIRL/Sporty’s flight training scholarship. Nobi’s journey has not been an easy one. It’s safe to say most roads to success are not easy. She has obstacles that many will most likely never face. She has lived through earthquakes and tsunamis but has kept her eye on aviation through it all. Maybe that’s what has gotten her through her hardest trials? Nobi was one of 315 applicants this year for the well-known flyGIRL/Sporty’s Scholarship. Her ambitious story and reputation led to her final selection as the recipient. Before beginning her pilot journey to the cockpit, Nobi had a career as a flight attendant with Delta airlines. It was during this time that she sustained an in-flight injury because of unexpected clear air turbulence. Her future in travel was put on hold indefinitely. “I never realized how much I loved flying until doctors told me I would never do so again; doctors told me it would take a miracle to walk again,” Nobi stated. Her career as a flight attendant may have ended due to her severe injuries but she had plans to continue her aviation journey, this time in the cockpit as a pilot.



Before taking her discovery flight in 2016, Nobi underwent five procedures, countless hours of rehabilitation, and physical therapy over a two-year period of time. Her will power and determination kept her pilot dreams alive. As most people know, flight training isn’t cheap! She is the sole provider for her family of four and has often struggled financially and jugged extra work shifts to make her dream happen. She counts on her family and friends for support and they gladly respond. Since moving from Japan to Hawaii, Nobi has earned a reputation as a giver. She thrives on helping others. Nobi serves as the WAI (Women In Aviation) Hawaii 5-0 treasurer, chairs GIAD (Girls In Aviation Day), and serves on the fundraising committee for the ’99’s Aloha Chapter. One of her biggest accomplishments was founding the “Aloha Aviators” in response to COVID-19. This group of aviators has sewn and delivered over 1400 masks throughout the Hawaiian Islands since its inception. Her desire to help others and can-do attitude has her dreaming of becoming a medevac pilot some day. She has recently completed her Multi-Engine Commercial certification and has plans to complete her CFI rating with the scholarship funds. During this time, she has also managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA in the Aeronautical Science program through Embry-Riddle, where she hopes to obtain her bachelor’s degree. There is little doubt that Nobi will be a success and will serve as a leader in the aviation community for years to come. Sharing stories like hers allows others to see the possibility for their own lives and may provide hope to anyone that through the most difficult circumstances there will be opportunities, especially if you “pay it forward” with sincerity. Others will notice and will want to lend a helping hand when the occasion presents itself.

Thank you Nobi for all you have done!

- From the flyGIRL and Sporty’s Scholarship team



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YOUR HISTORY WILL BUILD OUR FUTURE Your perspective and experiences will make us stronger. If you have dreams of a career in aviation, the U.S. Air Force has a place for you. Whether it’s becoming a Pilot, Combat Systems Officer, Air Battle Manager or a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Pilot, you can become a professional in the world’s greatest Air Force. Come join our team, we’re waiting for you. To learn more, visit airforce.com.



Mentor Minute: Your Why? Pete Parker WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU GROW UP? Are you going to college? Tell me about yourself. What are your plans? What starts as innocent questions asked by parents seems to grow out of control when grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, and friends and their parents all start to ask. When and how does it ever end?

Each time someone asks that once-dreaded question – what are you going to do? – you can respond by using your Why to briefly describe: •

Who you are (e.g. name, residence location, school attending)

Well, the answer is closer than you think!

What you’re passionate about (e.g. flying, working on engines, coding)

If you know what you want to do or have a good idea as to what you hope to do when you’re done with school, then craft your Why by writing down why you want to work in aviation and the reasons behind what you want to do. For example, why are you so passionate about becoming a pilot or a mechanic or an engineer?

What you hope to accomplish (e.g. college degree, license, certification, job)

What it’s going to take to reach your goals

Now, if you don’t know what you want to do, that’s ok. But if you know that you want to work in aviation, then you’re off to a great start. Simply, write down the reasons you love aviation and list the different things you might want do in the industry. These could be interests, hopes, dreams, you name it. Let’s take it a step further. Have you ever encountered a moment when you met one of your idols or someone you’ve always wanted


to meet? Many people do, quite regularly, but find it difficult to say what they want to say. It’s normal, yet there’s a way to make it work to your advantage.


These are elements of what’s known as an elevator pitch. It’s a 30-45 second description of you, your purpose, and a call to action. When you voice it to others, you’ll definitely impress them…beginning with your parents! The goal is to inspire someone to say “wow, tell me more! Every person who asks about your future really wants to see your passion. When they see the spark in your eyes and bounce in your step, they’ll likely offer to help you achieve your dreams. Your passion and excitement will open amazing doors of opportunity.

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