Amelia Earhart: That is the first and last name that comes to mind for most people when the subject of female aviators comes up. In 1932, she was the first woman to fly a plane across the Pacific ocean by herself. Unfortunately, even the greatest heroine of the air has an asterisk by her name in all the history books. Just five years after her greatest triumph, she experienced her greatest tragedy.
For in 1937, her plane disappeared while she attempted to fly around the world. It is past time we add a few more names and faces to female aviation, perhaps, one day, even yours, or that of your daughter.
Fortunately, history is not waiting for you to come and make it. Rather, it invites you to come and join it. Many women have already broken the glass ceiling and headed skyward. Here are just a few of those glass breakers as noted by the women’s history page on about.com:
- 1880 – July 4 – Mary Myers is the first American woman to solo in a balloon
- 1908 – Madame Therese Peltier is the first woman to fly an airplane solo
- 1912 – April 16 – Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to pilot her own aircraft across the English Channel
- 1921 – Bessie Coleman becomes the first African American, male or female, to earn a pilot’s license
The list goes on and on. Women had the right to fly long before they had the right to vote. Today, they are fighter pilots, airline pilots, even astronauts. As in many fields, they are not equally represented in the air. But much of that is now up to the number of women who dare to dream the very possible dream of flying. Here’s how to make that dream come true:
Take Flying Lessons
The obvious first step is to take flying lessons. What is much less obvious is that you can take those lessons from a woman. Though only about 1% of flight instructors in 2009, there were 6,362 at that time. That year, women accounted for 6.2% of airman certificate holders.
The same source declares that many men, as well as women, prefer females as flight instructors, citing the female tendency to listen, empathize, and encourage as just some of the reasons. For men or women, the price of a private pilot’s certificate can be upwards of $11,000, and take as much as seven months to complete. Sport and recreational certifications cost less and take less time, but have fewer privileges.
Get Some Gear
Naturally, you are going to need some gear. Pilotmall.com offers safety gear, such as flares, a flashlight, a satellite-based GPS, and other goodies. Beyond that, you will want a decent set of aviation headphones and glasses to protect your hearing and vision.
Buy a Plane on a Budget
It almost sounds oxymoronic to consider budget planes. But like automobiles, they lose value the moment they are taxied off the lot. A pre-owned plane in mint condition is still a pre-owned plane, and provides an excellent value proposition.
This site lists planes that can be had for a couple hundred thousand. That is a far cry from the five million you thought you needed. If you can afford a second home, you can afford a plane.
It’s all about living the dream. But before you can live the dream, you’ve got to have the dream, and that takes a lot of courage. Just know that the way has already been well paved.
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