Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

Hometown Airport: KIKV

Occupation: Flight Instructor

Website: www.5500feet.com

Education: BA in Japanese Language & Literature, of all things

Pilot Certificates: CFI, Commercial, Instrument

Airplanes Flying/Flown: Flight Design CTLS / Cessnas, Pipers, Taylorcraft

Education Specialty: Sport Pilot, tailwheel

Q & A

What drew you to aviation? I’ve been plane-crazy since I was a kid, and Richard Bach’s books hooked me when I was in 5th grade.

How long have you been involved in aviation education? Just over a year — I became a CFI at age 47, as a mid-life career change.

What’s your favorite part of what you do in aviation education? Making dreams come true by helping people learn to fly. Sharing the fun and satisfaction of that “aha” moment when a client finally gets it — whether “it” is how to judge the landing flare, do a forward slip, or some abstract aeronautical concept. The cliche “A good pilot is always learning” describes what makes flying and instructing fun and rewarding for me.

What’s your least favorite part of what you do in aviation education? Trying to diplomatically, graciously, and kindly help pilots recognize and correct hazardous attitudes, unsafe practices, or inconsiderate behavior. That’s never fun, but as a pilot and instructor, I have a professional and ethical responsibility to have those awkward conversations. It’s uncomfortable, but it could save someone’s life.

Why did you join SAFE? I joined before I even became a CFI. I happened to walk past the SAFE booth at Oshkosh, and there stood Doug Stewart, Rich Stowell, and Sandy Hill — titans and role models whose writing and Oshkosh presentations I had absorbed and admired for years. How could I not join? As a professional flight instructor dedicated to safety, I’m proud to support this organization that advocates for, and fosters, aviation safety and professionalism.

What would you like to see change in aviation? More women pilots. Women are half the population, but only 6% of pilots. Women have the leisure time, disposable income, and even business justifications for flying. And some of the best pilots I know are women. It’s not a matter of skill — it’s an issue of awareness, access, and opportunity for more women to discover flying.

Any suggestions on how the above might be accomplished? More visible female pilot role models for girls. Aviation scholarships for women. Networking opportunities with the female pilot associations. More social events with our pilot groups and airports — look how motorcycle clubs build community. Existing pilots could be more welcoming, inclusive, and supportive, and remember that for many pilots, female and male, the joy in aviation is really about the people, not the hardware.

Any accomplishments in, or noteworthy contributions to aviation and/or aviation education you’d like to mention? I restored my 1946 Taylorcraft BC12-D, and won “Best in Class” Lindy trophies two years in a row at Oshkosh. Sold her after five years of taildragger fun that made me a better pilot, started a new Light Sport Airplane flying club (www.clearskiesflyingclub.com), and now I’m instructing in a new Flight Design CTLS S-LSA.

Who are your role models in aviation? Many professional, courteous flight instructors who demonstrate high standards for safety, professionalism, customer service, and putting the needs of their clients first.

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