Mikaila Gillis (Arizona)

Mikaila Gillis is based at KSDL, Scottsdale Airport, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Mikaila Gillis (center) with CFII, Shalyn Marchetti (right)

I was born in raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I wanted to be a musician my entire life. I went to piano lessons, trumpet lessons, and even went to a high school just for performing arts. One day when I was younger my mom took me to the Luke Air Force Base for their annual free air show. I was amazed with all the stunt planes, the old and new jets, and everything that had to do with flying. That day I realized deep down that I was interested in flying.

It took me a while to fight the internal battle of continuing with music or choosing a whole new pathway and begin flying, but it was my grandpa who convinced me to take a leap of faith into a new world that I have only dreamed of. My grandpa had his Private Pilot license way back when my dad was a kid. He was the only one with any flight experience or knowledge of the flight world in the family. A few years ago he got really sick and passed away, but right before he passed we talked about my future and he told me to follow my dreams, that he was proud of me, and that forever he will be my co-pilot in my heart. He motivated to reach out and start finding ways to becoming involved in the world of flying and begin my training.

At this time training to become a Private Pilot was way too expensive, so I joined programs like Civil Air Patrol and EAA Young Eagles to get a few flights under my belt. I eventually applied for a scholarship to travel to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to see the world largest air show and be a part of the EAA Advance Air Academy. I got accepted!! As soon as I got home from the trip I began my training (with two female instructors) to become a Private Pilot and months later I passed my check ride becoming a pilot at 18 years old!

Now I’m currently a Freshman at the University of North Dakota studying Commercial Aviation and Atmospheric Science. My hope is to fly in strong weather conditions or fly research airplanes for NOAA or NASA with the hope of eventually flying for the airlines.

Ratings: Currently a Private Pilot, training for more ratings

Aircraft flown: I have flown Cessna 172, Cirrus SR 22, and a Piper Archer

Dream taildragger: Piper J-3 Cub

Thoughts on taildragging: I’ve never flown in a taildragger but it looks like so much fun!! I would like to get involved in the aerobatic team at my school which uses a American Champion Decathlon. It will be fun to get endorsed and fly a tailwheel plane!

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