Women Soar Video
It all started when I was still 13, in the summer of 2010. I had been on 4 Young Eagles flights and was receiving emails and mail from them about programs. One day I received a rather interesting piece of mail, about a program called Women Soar! And the rest was history…
My parents knew they had to let me go. It wasn’t too expensive, and I had saved up all of my eighth grade graduation money for a plane ticket and the tuition of the camp. The hardest part was getting them to say yes, so thank God for my stupendous parents! I was only 14 at the time, I boarded a plane all by myself. I had almost no prior experience of even being in an airport, except for when I was younger and went to Disney! I remember that day, we had gotten stuck in traffic in New York and we had missed my flight by 1 minute! 1 minute!! So they put me on standby as a passenger for the next flight. My parents were so nervous. I tried to be serious and nervous, but I was just too excited. All of a sudden, they called my name over the airport intercom. I went to the counter in the terminal and I had been upgraded to first class on the next flight to Wisconsin! I was beyond myself!
After a long afternoon of travel, I arrived in Milwaukee airport very late at night. The nicest lady ever, Brianna, came to pick me up at the baggage claim and take me to the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh dorms! She was so incredibly kind to me the whole time I was there. When we arrived at the dorms, I was greeted by one of the chaperones, Maci and the coolest roommate ever, Jessica! I was so surprised and hyper that I had actually gotten here and would be attending Women Soar. Jessica and I stayed up late talking about everything from our houses, to airplanes, to our boyfriends. What an awesome thing, to have a friend with the same interests as you, I thought.
The next morning was the first official day of Women Soar. All these girls had started arriving around noon! Jessica and I went down to the dormitory lobby to check in and we were given 2 t-shirts and a backpack full of the most amazing aviation gifts I have ever received. At that point, I felt as if it were Christmas morning! We were so excited, we ran up to the room and opened our backpacks. What generous sponsors from Boeing, EAA, GE and more! That backpack held everything from a compass, notepad, water bottle, pens, stickers, brochures, and even airplane paper clips! It felt so nice to be surprised. And our t-shirts were so soft and they fit perfectly!
The University of Wisconsin was a wonderful place to stay at. I had never been to a college before, so it kind of felt like a college experience for me. All of the facilities were immaculately clean. There were lounges everywhere to sit and talk as well as water fountains, which were referred to by Wisconsin folks as “bubblers”! Our room was equipped with a refrigerator and an ice cube tray which was perfect for making ice for our water bottles! There were so many floors to the doorm and so much to explore. At night a good amount of the girls would bring their iPods and speakers to an empty room and we would just have fun dancing at night, no matter how tired we were! It was then that I broke out of my shy, hermit crab shell, and began to enjoy my life.
On the first day there, after all the girls had checked in, we went to an opening assembly. I remember one woman pilot, who was in a branch of the military came and sat right next to me! I was so scared to talk to someone so important! She was so kind though and we began talking about our love of flying and her experiences in the military. I listened to the camp coordinators speak as well as Jill “Raggz” Long. I was so completely mesmerized by her story and the way she told it. She had such a great charsima and was probably on of the most inspiring people I have ever met! After we were split up into groups and began to introduce each other. I was so amazed how nice these girls were to me, I was used to the not so nice ones at school! Then we were bussed over to the EAA Air Museim. I was flabbergasted; this was the museum I read and read about, the one that I’ve seen on the EAA Website! As we pulled up I felt as if I had already been there! We walked in and it looked just how I imagined it should! I remember we went on a scavenger hunt and got to socialize with pilots who helped us find what we were looking for.
We then got a catered sit-down dinner in the hangar at the EAA Air Museum. I felt so important and overwhelmed that I was able to have this opportunity. When I listened to two of the WASPS speak, my mind was blown. To hear their stories and listen to their advice, was one of the best opportunities I could have ever gotten. I had read all about Jackie Cochran before and now here were the WASPS who knew her personally! I breifly got to talk to each WASP and they told me to always follow my dreams and never give up. They were so polite and kindhearted, I hoped one day I would get to be like them.
On the morning of my second full day there, I was bussed over to Fox Valley Technical College with a bunch of girls. Turns out we had a full avitaion packed schedule ahead! It started with two types of flight simulators. I first tried at flying a simple flight simulator with an instructor next to me. I had tried flight simlulator in the past using my computer keyboard, not too successful. With his careful instruction I was able to take off, maintain a level flight, and even land the plane! He turned some kind of turbulence on and I tried very hard to keep a level flight over Wisconsin. Overall my first official flight simulator experience went great. (Unfortunately once I landed I did not “stop” the plane and crashed into a hangar…) Better luck next time. My next test was flying a multiengine simulator with another girl. I barely had any clue what I was doing. She was 17 and already working on her license, and gave me such helpful tips. I think if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gotten the plane off the ground. It made me really appreciate the whole idea of this program, and I realized how awesome us women in aviation were!
After my new experiences with flight simulator, it was time for the techincal aspects. We were lead to this interesting contraption with an engine and propellor mounted to this sheild with a cockpit like structure on the opposite side. Interesting…. Turns out each of us got to experience starting an engine and then checking both the left and the right magnetos. We had to pay attention to numerous things while starting the engine, and the man helping us was a great wealth of knowledge. It was so cool how people could actually build that, it made me want to go build an engine! After the engine lesson, we went indoors for a riveting lesson. They had these air-compressed riveting guns which I at first thought, were the scariest things I had ever seen. But, as I saw girls making nice rivets in their sheet metal I knew I had to give it a try. Turns out the noise was about the only thing intimidating about this tool and I began having so much fun riveting! Call me Rosie the Riveter!
To be continued….