Alyssa Miller

Bucket lists, new adventures

March 12, 2012 by Alyssa Miller, AOPA Online Managing Editor

On March 10, I had the opportunity to fly in my first aviation event geared toward taking as many as possible on their first general aviation flight. Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland (AOPA’s home base) can get busy, but it’s not often that I see six aircraft waiting to take off. That’s the way it was for much of the day as pilots volunteered to take girls and women aloft in aircraft ranging from Experimentals to helicopters to twins. The effort was part of Women of Aviation Week’s Fly it Forward Day.

My first passenger was Martine, whose curiosity in airplanes and my piloting credentials kept me on my toes for answers and explanations.Fly it Forward event I let Martine know that I was a flight instructor before loading her into the left seat. Even though Martine knew many aviation terms, much of the experience was new, including learning that a Cessna 172 is steered on the ground by our feet. With so many people in the traffic pattern, it gave us the perfect opportunity to discuss radio communications and point out aircraft in the sky.

By the time we took off and leveled at 2,500 feet msl, she was ready to try her hand at straight and level. By the time we landed, she was ready to learn to fly! Martine promptly picked up a flight training packet at the flight school on the field, and I gave her a couple of CFI recommendations after I made her first entry in the logbook she had just purchased.

A few hours after the flight Martine had her husband, Bill, come out to the airport. He wants to learn to fly too. Apparently, learning to fly is on their “bucket list,” and they want to accomplish their dream while they still have time to enjoy flying. He had many of the same questions as Martine, which she proudly answered to prove she remembered much of our conversation during flight.

Martine and Bill’s enthusiasm for aviation matched that of two of my other passengers that day–Brownie Troop girls young enough to be their grandchildren. Each of the girls shared bonding time with her mom while looking over the patchwork farmland below. They were equally thrilled when their moms got to “drive” in the air. One girl was so excited she just started giggling after takeoff. (That’s such a precious sound to hear coming through the intercom!)

I hope the new adventure for these girls will leave a lasting impression and inspire them to learn to fly. And, I hope Martine and Bill get “pilot certificate” checked off their bucket list so they can travel together by GA.

7 Responses to “Bucket lists, new adventures”

  1. Jill Tallman Says:

    Way to go!

  2. Shaun Crosley Says:

    WOW, what a way to Fly it Forward. I can not wait until I can do something like this. I may only have 3-4 hours behind the controls of C172 but I can tell that It is going to be well worth it. Just to be able to show people the excitement that I have and passion for Aviation. Thanks for posting this…

  3. Victoria Says:

    What a great introduction to aviation you gave them! Thanks for being such an inspiration to future pilots!

  4. Chris Says:

    That’s awesome I’m sure they will get it. My oldest student was 77 and 125 hours later he had his ppl.

  5. Cynthia Moody Says:

    Thanks for sharing such an inspiring event! Perhaps some of these new aviation enthusiasts might like to look into volunteering with the Civil Air Patrol while they’re getting their wings:

  6. Cecil E. Chapman Says:

    This is a GREAT idea and one thing that I always encourage others to do for their sons and *especially* for their daughters! Although learning to fly is a transforming experience for youth of any gender, it has long been my observation/belief in the years that I’ve been a full-time flight instructor that this transformation brings especially positive results to a young girl.

    While women of all ages should fly, I’ve noticed that it is especially positive during the period of time (especially in the teens) when a young lady is just beginning to develop her self-confidence and basis of self-image/self-worth. It is my belief that if a young girl/woman has a strong sense of self that it will enable them to further make better choices in both career and choice of men. If self-image, self-worth and confidence are solid; more chance they will choose a partner that values and respects them – why (???) ; because they realize that they are entitled to nothing less. Becoming a pilot truly transforms a person in many positive ways – one of the many reasons that I love every day I go to the field to teach my students how to become pilots. The skies are a phenomenal ‘classroom’!

    Kudos again to these great efforts and I hope it inspires many more to follow!

  7. Mike Stinnett Says:

    Cecil Chapman, I was going to write exactly the same thing, but you said it beautifully. I raised 3 daughters as a single dad and I taught each one to fly. The boost in their self esteem elevated them to become amazing young women that achieved things I never imagined. Each one graduated with full scholarships and I NEVER had to discipline them. They simply became “good people” because it made them feel good. We took many of their friends for first flights through the EAA’s Young Eagle program and it seemed to elevate them almost to “celebrity status” in their schools. I couldn’t be more proud and I owe MUCH of it to aviation.

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