That’s right. The generation that reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century, Generation Y, born between 1980 and the end of 1994, are blasting through the glass ceiling of aviation and setting new and long awaited norms for female pilots. Lady tailwheel and trike pilots behold, the doors are wide open and those with smarts, competence and determination are welcome into the world of aviation. If you dream of flying professionally, it’s in your power to make it happen. 

I’m rooting for you ladies and I’m your biggest fan.  I want every lady pilot to have the opportunity to earn a tailwheel endorsement and enjoy all the knowledge and flying finesse that includes.  (FYI, just days left to apply for a LadiesLoveTaildraggers Tailwheel Endorsement Scholarship.) LINK TO APPLY. 

Keep pushing and keep achieving ladies. The number of women who choose aviation right now affect the future of all women to follow. Our little snowball has barely begun to roll even though two inventive men opened the door for all of us more than 100 years ago. I am excited for the future of female pilots and at the same time confused by why we gals continue to lag so far behind.  Happily, female millennial’s are a powerful force and are set to thrust us beyond the current and pitiful 7% of the U.S. pilot population. 

Without a significant change, without the number of female pilots increasing, my recent experience is what awaits you at any general aviation airport across America. Depending on the sex of your passenger, your skill as a pilot will be open for debate. Verification of that surrounds a landing I made at an area airport in my Decathlon. Had I arrived solo or with a woman passenger and strolled into the FBO, I doubt there would have been comments. But that windy day, I landed accompanied by my husband who was quietly sightseeing from the rear seat. After taxiing to the fuel pump, I refueled at the self-service then we walked together into the FBO. We were greeted by a couple male staff members.

FYI, on unicom it should have been clear I was the PIC; I broadcast my position multiple times before touching down.  I was sitting in the pilot’s seat rolling up to the ramp/fuel pump and I was the person who refueled my plane. But still, somehow, walking through the FBO door I was greeted with this question, “So tell me, which of you landed that airplane in this crosswind?”

Somehow my answer “Me” didn’t seem adequate. Somehow the question didn’t seem fair. Frankly, I don’t know why I’m even writing this now. I think of myself as a pilot, not a ‘woman’ pilot. I don’t expect any special reactions or treatment from the ground crew when I land at airports but in turn, I don’t expect to be quizzed on my participation “landing” the airplane. I suppose I should focus on the positive – after assuring them that I was in fact the PIC, I was given a “10” for cross-wind landing skills.

Fast forward. We need enough gals flying in the future to swing the pendulum so that when YOU walk through the door of the FBO there won’t be a question, only a statement. “You made a great landing in that crosswind!”

Emily Daniel, CFII

 

3 Comments

  1. Kelly Jeffries
    February 20, 2019, 12:44 pm   /  Reply

    As an airline captain, I’m in big airports every day I work. As a GA pilot, I’m at little airports and I live in an airpark, so I am around airplanes most of the time. Obviously, I love flying. I see more and more women pilots and can’t believe that the numbers are still so small. People (both men and women) say some stupid comments sometimes. I always strive to be a good representative for women pilots and try to educate those people who make those comments. Humor goes a long way, so does just letting it go. They aren’t going to stop you from doing what you love.

  2. juliet Lindrooth
    February 19, 2019, 10:17 am   /  Reply

    Oh my. As an airline pilot, I get this every day that I go to work. I could relate hundreds of stories from passengers getting off the plane because I was up front to making a landing in England in a bad storm with a direct gusty crosswind at the limits with the rain falling horizontal. I got in on the ground with my first try, while all the others had to go around multiple times. Everyone on-board thought the “man” took over. The man in the other seat let everyone know that I did it. Kudos to him. later that day, when talking to a Flight Attendant on the plane behind us, she said her pilots had to go around 3 times. She asked me how many times did we go around. I said none. I rolled it on the first try. The shocked look on her face was priceless. “You did it?”. Yep. It was me.

    Back to taildraggers I was taking my son for a flight in our Bird. As we were walking to the plane, a man remarked how nice it was that my son was taking me up. My son turned to the man and said “I’m not a pilot, she is” . My son was so angry. I told him it just a day in the life of a female pilot.sigh. Maybe someday it will change.

  3. February 19, 2019, 8:00 am   /  Reply

    Excellent reminder of how far we still need to progress in this area! There has never been better opportunities for young Pilots coming into aviation.
    A Pilot is a Pilot, amazing we still are dealing with the stereotypes…..

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