Tom Horne

The Women Pilots of Air Journey’s RTW

July 15, 2014 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

Of the nine pilots flying the current legs of Air Journey’s around the world (RTW) voyage, two are women. One, Laura Azara, plans to file for a record flight: the youngest female pilot to complete an around the world trip in an unmodified airplane–a Pilatus PC-12NG.

Yes, Amelia Earhart–no, not that Amelia Earhart–recently claimed an around-the-world record for being the youngest female pilot to reach that goal, and in a PC-12 NG to boot. But the latter Earhart made her flight using a PC-12NG fitted with ferry fuel tanks. And while she may have been the youngest to do the flight, Azara is even younger–by a mere three days. On the RTW trip Azara flies with Jimmy Hayes in his PC-12.

Laura Azara, copying  her clearance to depart Taiwan's Taoyuan Airport.

Laura Azara, copying her clearance to depart Taiwan’s
Taoyuan Airport.

Corinna Hettinger is the second female pilot. She has a private pilot certificate and logs time flying the Sierra-modified Cessna Citation ISP owned by her and husband Bill. She learned to fly in a Cessna 152 and in her 25 years of flying, she’s flown a series of Piper piston singles, then upped her game to serving as co-pilot in the Piper Navajo the couple have owned. These days, she’s riding shotgun and making contrails in the ISP at FL430.

Corinna and Bill Hettinger prepare to board their Citation.

Corinna and Bill Hettinger prepare to board their Citation.

Meanwhile, Betty Schlacter, while not a pilot, might as well be. She’s been flying with husband David for the past 65 hours in the TBM 850 the couple are using on the RTW trip. She’s attended a number of pinch-hitter courses, and learned a lot from right-seat experience. The skills she’s learned over the years make her very adept at working the GPS and other navigation equipment, as well as making radio calls. In the polyglot world of around the world flying that’s saying a lot.

 

One Response to “The Women Pilots of Air Journey’s RTW”

  1. Michael Clark Says:

    What an irresponsible piece of journalistic hyperbole, Tom. I can’t believe that you would write something like that. “Meanwhile, Betty Schlacter, while not a pilot, might as well be.”

    After 40 years in the cockpit, dozens of checkrides, thousands of flight hours and hundreds of hours of training, I find that a bit too generous. To be a pilot, as you well know, it takes study, testing and an occasional checkride or two. Not just riding next to a pilot, regardless of how well you work the radios or GPS. I hope that your comment doesn’t encourage someone to take an aircraft for a ride because they sat next to a pilot for hours and hours.

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