Sunday, 24 May 2015

I got 99 reasons to fly

No actual flying this weekend but plenty of aviation based stuff going on. I attended the AGM of the East Canada Section of the 99s.

If I haven’t mentioned it before the 99s are a group of female pilots. Our inaugural president was Amelia Earhart herself, so you’re in pretty good company. The organisation is open to female pilots (students as well) and aims to provide support and promote women pilots.

You can read a little about them here. I was introduced to the group by a couple of the female pilots at the local flying club, not long after I’d joined and quickly became aware of the events they support such as the “Girls take Flight” (an event I still need to blog about!)

Initially I was a little apprehensive about being thrown in to this mix. I don’t do big groups particularly well, especially groups where I hardly know anyone. I also had a horrid suspicion that it’d be a group of bored “ladies who lunch” kind of thing.

Yeah I couldn’t have been more wrong on that score.

I met (and was instantly welcomed by) young pilots, old pilots, student pilots, commercial pilots. Air racers, Sunday morning flyers. Pilots who had built their own planes, pilots who were weekend renters just like me.

The range of experience and backgrounds was staggering.  The welcome even more so. Everyone had a story to tell and was genuinely interested in your own in turn. From the pre solo student to the gold cup winners.

I have never been in an environment where I felt so accepted, so much like I belonged. To think of it, I’ve never been in a room with 45 other female pilots before.

I was truly humbled by some of the people I met. The woman who’d spent 45 years as a technician in the Navy before finally getting her PPL at the age of 78. The employee of a local aerospace company that enjoyed working with the planes so much , she got her commercial and type rating and now shuttles her fellow coworkers between Toronto and Montreal on the company Q400.

I spoke with pilots who fly twins, homebuilts, a little Ercoupe.The latter has no rudder pedals at all. I spent 15 minutes getting her to try to explain exactly how she lands it in a crosswind!

After a million different conversations I rapidly discovered that despite my awe, I had much in common with these pilots.

I discovered I’m not the only one who decides not to fly went the winds look too sporty or the ceilings too low to be fun. I’m also not the only one who improvises items to climb on to dip the wing tanks either.

I also discovered that people seem to be disproportionally (in my opinion) impressed that I learnt out of the island airport. For them it is intimidating, for me it’s just what I’m used to.  I admitted that actually untowered airports scare me somewhat.

I’ll probably have a couple more posts from this meeting but all in all I met a ton of new flying friends, have any invitations to meet up at various airfields and I’ve got 99 reasons to fly.  

No comments:

Post a Comment