Celebrating The Women of CHI Aerospace
Updated: Mar 31, 2022
In honor of Women’s History Month, CHI would like to highlight a few of its amazing community members who identify as women! These women were sent five questions regarding who inspires them, what advice they would give to young girls getting into aviation, and more, and they were asked to answer these questions in just a few sentences. Here are their responses! Please read and share with the women in your life.
Left to right; top to bottom: Aly Y., Deb D., Laura E., Tina L., Jordan T., Erin C., Anna V., Elora M., Kathy G.
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST NAME AND WHAT ROLE DO YOU HAVE IN THE AVIATION COMMUNITY (E.G., PILOT-PRE SOLO, DISPATCHER, CFI)?
“My name is Aly and I'm a student-pilot who's finished 4 solo flights and am close to my Private Pilot's License.”
“Laura – Student pilot, pre-solo”
“Tina LaMontagne, Private Pilot, General Manager at CHI Aerospace
“My name is Erin and I am one of the dispatchers here at CHI. I will be working on my flight training soon to get my Sport Pilot’s License.”
“I am Jordan, a student pilot.”
“Kathy. I’ve been a Sport pilot since 2013.”
“My name is Anna and I’m a post-solo student pilot :)”
“My name is Elora. I am the Operations Manager at CHI Aerospace as well as a student pilot preparing for my Private Pilot checkride.”
“Deb- occasional visitor/CFI/ATP (B-737/757/767)”
AS AN AVIATOR/AVIATRIX (OR MEMBER OF THE AVIATION COMMUNITY), WHAT/WHO INSPIRES YOU MOST? WHY?
“All of the girls and young women who are pursuing their dreams of flying. I was raised thinking I could do or be anything, yet it never occurred to me that I could be a pilot. It inspires me that so many young women and girls see aviation as a career that is open to them too.”
“The thing that inspires me most as a pilot is the freedom and opportunity that flying gives you. There are so many things you can do as a pilot, and it is such an amazing community to be a part of. Working at CHI, being able to see and celebrate the successes of other students and pilots who come through our doors is so rewarding, and you make so many friends along the way.”
“Amelia Earhart. She was always someone I idolized [because of] how she challenged gender norms and roles, wasn't afraid of a challenge, accomplished great things and inspired so many women.”
“The beauty of flight and the mental challenge of it inspire me to keep flying and trying to be a better pilot.”
“I’m most inspired by pilots who have an enthusiasm and drive for learning despite the mental challenges that flying can sometimes present, while still maintaining a sense of adventure. I’m particularly inspired by my friend Danielle, who is not only an excellent pilot who I’ve learned so much from, but a friend who’s been my sounding board anytime I’ve hit a road bump in my progress. As someone who had to overcome issues with confidence as a student, she’s been an endless supporter when I’ve experienced the same (many times!).”
“Well, I’m inspired daily by human beings who face adversity with grace and kindness. When I was younger and flying for a living, I looked up to Sally Ride for shattering the astronaut glass ceiling.”
“Angelina Jolie, who saw her son interested in planes and decided "oh cool, I'll just become a pilot" and became a role model for him.”
“All of the women pilots I see every day! I love that we are a community that inspires one another; setting an example for the young women in our lives and in our community.”
“My dad inspires me the most to learn more about aviation. I would say I am more interested right now in the science behind aviation, most likely due to being a biomedical student first and pilot second. However, my dad flew the H-60 coast guard helicopter for 27 years, and then the H-145 airbus for Boston Medflight. I was always looking up to him, literally and figuratively, in part due to his never ending passion for flying and constant desire to always learn more.”
WHAT GOT YOU INTO AVIATION?
“As a kid I did a lot of scenic flights in single engine planes and fell in love with planes and flying. I dreamt of becoming a pilot for so long. Life took me in other directions so it didn't happen for me till a little later in life but I'm living my dream now!”
“From my first airline flight at the age of 17, I have always loved flying. I loved leaving Earth and being in the clouds. I loved everything about flying – the airports, the baggage carts, watching the planes take off and land, being in the air, and looking for them in the sky. However, it never occurred to me that I could be a pilot, until years later when a friend, who is a commercial airliner pilot and had small general aviation airplanes, suggested it. I had been up with him several times and had gotten to take the controls a time or two and loved it! As soon as he said ‘You should be a pilot,’ I knew he was right!”
“Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of flying. It all started with a seaplane ride during a family vacation in Minnesota. I thought I wanted to become an airline pilot, but back in the 1960s there weren’t many visible women in aviation and it didn’t seem possible. It wasn’t until 1973 that a major U.S. airline hired a female pilot! I ended up putting off my dream for decades, figuring that flying was too costly, too dangerous, too impractical. But then I received an intro flight for my 53rd birthday, and I was hooked! One month later, I began taking lessons.”
“I crewed on large sailing yachts in my 20s and other crew members flew fixed wing or helicopters. They brought me to my first flying lesson at FXE.”
“My partner’s mother, who was speaking with my partner one day, trying to convince him to become an airline pilot. Little did she know that the woman sitting next to him, me, was the one she was convincing. I remember the moment during that conversation when it hit me- ‘wait, I could do that!’. I took an Intro Flight at CHI, absolutely fell in love, and here I am!”
“If I hadn't become a flight attendant, I don't think I ever would've entertained the idea of becoming a pilot. Now that I'm in the aviation world I can't imagine doing anything else. My biggest push toward this path was that I was ready to be challenged. I knew I had the aptitude and determination for it so once the idea got in my head I signed up for my first flight lesson with CHI three days later.”
“When I was 6 years old, I saw an article in the newspaper about another six-year-old that had been learning to fly with her dad. I was so taken by that story because flying an airplane seemed so out there and just not something that regular people, especially ones who were six, could do. I’d say that’s my earliest memory of fascination with aviation, but it’s been a dream for as long as I can remember. It was during the pandemic that I decided to finally go for it and not waste any more time fantasizing.”
“I didn't find my love and passion for aviation until after I graduated college. In November of 2018, I received a message from Tad Vaughn that said he was looking for help at the desk for a flight school he worked at in Portsmouth, NH. At that time, I had no knowledge of anything relating to aviation, but was pushed by a gut feeling to accept his offer. I'm a believer that everything happens for a reason, and you should always jump on any opportunity that presents itself. So, a week later I started working at CHI Aerospace. As each day passed, my interest in flying began to grow and fully ignited after my first flight in one of our Vans RV-12s. After a full day of flights, I got to tag along on a maintenance ferry to Hampton. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at first, but as soon as we took off my entire perspective changed. Being able to see the world from that viewpoint and having the freedom to fly anywhere made me immediately fall in love. For the rest of the day I couldn’t stop smiling! Although the flight only lasted 15 minutes, it’s still one of my favorite memories. Now, I am the General Manager at CHI and earned my Private Pilot’s certificate in August of 2021. Now I'm working toward my instrument, and hope to earn the rest of my ratings (IR-CFII) in the next two years.”
HOW DOES BEING AN AVIATOR/AVIATRIX (OR A MEMBER OF THE AVIATION COMMUNITY) EMPOWER YOU?
“It is mind-boggling to think how few people have a pilot’s license, and of course being a woman makes me part of an even smaller subset of that small group. I consider learning to fly my most amazing accomplishment, and that skill gives me confidence in other areas of my life.”
“It made me self reliant, which is a pretty good thing when you’re independent by nature. It also made me understand that learning about how machines work and a little physics ‘ain’t rocket science’!"
“The fact that I could be the first person that pops into the minds of the young women I know when they hear the word Pilot empowers me. I am pursuing something I love and setting an example for young people who identify as women along the way and I am so proud of myself for that.”
“In my mid-forties, with a family and a non-aviation job, it is challenging to make the time and have the resources to pursue my private pilot’s license. When COVID hit, that got even harder. So, the fact that I am doing it, that I am pursuing my dream, despite the challenges, empowers me.”
“I feel empowered by working on becoming a pilot in an industry that has a very small percentage of women. I’m pushing the boundaries, breaking that glass ceiling and paving the way for young girls and women looking to enter the aviation world.”
“Being a part of the aviation community empowers me because it is just one more area in life where my ingenuity and curiosity pleasantly [surprises me]. I never pictured myself being a pilot, but so far, it seems like there is not one thing I cannot do-and I have aviation to thank for that.”
“There's this scene in Mrs. Maisel where Mei repeats over and over ‘I'm going to be a doctor’ not because she wanted the other person to know but because she was convincing/reminding herself. When I feel my confidence dwindling (in any situation), I'll repeat to myself ‘I'm going to be a pilot’. Just putting myself in that narrative emboldens me to be more confident because that is a keystone quality in a pilot.”
“The impossibility of flight is the reason that it took me as long as it did to get into aviation, and the fact that I’m actually doing it empowers me.”
IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO A YOUNG GIRL LOOKING TO GET INTO AVIATION, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
“Go for it! If you're on the fence or thinking about learning to fly, sign up for an intro flight. It could be life changing, and introduce you to a whole new world filled with friends, amazing memories and a potential career.”
“People often say that they’ve ‘never looked back' after finally attempting something hard or exciting, like flying. To a young girl looking to get into aviation, I would say that if you love it, you can do it, and though you may look back many times when everything from the hurdles of learning something so challenging get to be too much or the weather doesn’t cooperate for weeks at a time, if you keep coming back and sticking with it, you will succeed.”
“You have to believe in yourself first and foremost. Even if you have supportive people around you, be your own biggest supporter and believe you can do it!”
“Do it! You may meet people along the way who try to discourage you but you will meet way more that will encourage you and cheer for you. You are a force to be reckoned with and will achieve amazing things as an aviatrix!”
“I would advise young girls to never say never, and [that] reaching outside of your comfort zone can lead to some beautiful opportunities.”
“Don’t let the naysayers or self-doubt get in the way of learning.”
“There IS a place for you in aviation and a ton of women who will support you and help you along the way! We’re in this together.”
“Read everything first and understand navigation before you get in an airplane. It makes things less confusing in the beginning. And never be intimidated or scared to ask questions. Don’t ever forget to fly the airplane first.”
These women are the next generation of CHI Aviators following in the footsteps of aviators like Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Mace Curran, Patty Wagstaff, and more. CHI is proud to continue celebrating women's successes and furthering our mission of fostering an inclusive community and helping every aviator reach their dreams.
Thank you to the women who submitted responses for this post!
To read some statistics on female representation in the aviation industry, please see the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Women In Aviation: A Workforce Report, written by Rebecca K. Lutte, Ph. D., attached below.