by Kasey Dixon
I was 28 years old when I obtained my Private Pilot certification after a lifetime of dreaming about becoming a pilot. Seeing the shark-toothed grin of a Flying Tigers P-40 at the local airshow as a young girl gave me the “bug” and the fascination never went away.
There were many perceived barriers to pursuing flying and plenty of naysayers along the way but the dream of flight was compelling. For me, the path to flight involved joining the United States Army as an AH-64D Apache helicopter mechanic, serving one tour in Iraq. From there I earned my AAS in Aviation Maintenance, Airframe and Powerplant certifications, and finally my Private Pilot certification from Texas State Technical College. After becoming a pilot I earned my BS in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and my current job is providing customer support for the Honda Jet. My ultimate goal is to one day fly corporate, so I am saving up for my Instrument and Commercial ratings currently and hope to begin training later this year.
Flying taught me how to depend on myself in new and exciting ways. I’ll never forget looking down at the ground falling away as I took off on my first solo flight and thinking, “Wow! I am the only person on earth that can bring this airplane down safely.”
When you solo an aircraft for the first time you gain a confidence in yourself that few other experiences in life can truly provide. As a pilot, you learn to adapt to situations and overcome challenges while remaining cool and collected. Just being in the air has a way of making you forget, if briefly, about the things that are stressing you out back on the ground. You also gain many lifelong friends in your fellow female aviators, and it is truly special to be a part of a tight-knit community that comprises just 6% of all pilots.
I encourage all women who have ever considered flying to take a leap and book that first lesson. Organizations like Women in Aviation and The Ninety-Nines will be there to support you on your journey. Don’t be intimidated by the cost or length of training. While some have been fortunate enough to be cleared “direct to” their destination, many of us took different routes, meandering and stopping for fuel along the way. There are those who would say the journey is more enjoyable that way. No matter which route you take, you never know what opportunities you will uncover on your path to your wings. Embrace the possibilities!