Close Up

An aspiring pilot seeking to honor her late mother

I recently realized that I wanted to pursue a career in the aviation field.
Early last year, my mom had to go down to LA for cancer treatment because the local doctors here could no longer treat it. Sadly though, we had found out while she was being treated down there, that the cancer had spread to her brain and she had become terminal.
As a parting gift, one of my mom’s family members had offered her a plane ride home on his private plane. Even though times were tough, our family was excited for this trip.
When we entered the airport, my parents and I had started talking about my future and what I potentially wanted to be when I became an adult. We were throwing ideas around and finally they suggested being a pilot.
I wasn’t too sure, because I had never really thought about it before, but I decided that I would talk to our pilot about his experience anyway.
While on the flight home, he offered for me to come sit up front in the cockpit with him.
I jumped at this opportunity because one, the view had to be amazing up there and two, I could have the chance to interview him! As our conversation went on, I found my interest growing more and more.
Every person I’ve talked to in the aviation industry always says, if you want to pursue a career in this field, you have to have a passion for it, and that day was the day my passion for aviation was born.
Sadly, after only a couple of weeks of being home in hospice, my mom had finally succumbed to her sickness and passed away. And as devastating as it was, some good did come from it.
If I had never had that interaction with that pilot, I may not have found my love for aviation.
After four years of my life being completely flipped upside down and numbly going through the daily motions of life, I had finally found a purpose and something to look forward to again.
After doing some more research here and there, I decided that I wanted my end goal to be becoming a commercial airline pilot.
While choosing my elective classes for this year, Mrs. Satterberg mentioned an aviation class at Reedley College through Valley ROP, this immediately caught my attention.
After talking a little more with her about it, I was all in!
When I walked into the classroom on the first day, I was nervous that I was going to be the only girl taking this class.
But as more people showed up, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many girls were also interested in aviation as well!
I have heard horror stories of women going into male dominated career fields, but so far everyone has been very accepting and supportive of me.
Taking this class has only solidified the fact that I definitely want to pursue this career. I have had so many opportunities sent my way through this class, one of which was paying for me to go take my first flight lesson!
I love this class so much that it doesn’t even feel like I’m in school sometimes.
On Fridays, we do a “Hands On Day” where we get to do things like flying drones or operate flight simulators.
I really feel like I’m putting myself ahead for my future by taking this class because even though it’s main focus is drones, a lot of the information we learn will overlap into operating a plane.
And by the end of this class I will have earned my Part 107 Drone Pilot license, and nine college credits.