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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Lily Schwartz

Friday's Fabulous Flyer! 

Lily Schwartz

Lily and I connected via email back in September of 2015!  She sent me a bunch of photos with my plans to write her post at that time. But I was in the middle of a trip, and when I returned catching up with school... and life happened. What did Lily do? She just went on flying and continued to be amazing. Her story is incredible and after she shares it at Women in Aviation, I will post it here, too, for those of you who cannot make it to the conference.  Today Lily shares her story of how she paints the skies with a team of flyers!

Lily Schwartz:

"For me, nothing captures the freedom of the skies more than formation flying. Gliding through the skies – wingtip to wingtip – with your friends and fellow pilots is a rush that must be experienced to be believed. I have always loved flying and the sky, but formation flying is relatively new to my life. I started flying as a formation pilot with the Israeli-New York Flying Club in 2013 and I have never looked back. For me, formation flying is an art form of aviation which requires intense cooperation, trust and training between pilots. 

Many people are shocked to find that I am both a woman and a pilot, and formation flying is no exception. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to find a group of formation pilots that did not whether I was a woman – only that I knew how to handle myself in the sky. I will always remember after my first practice with the Israeli-New York flying club, the squadron leader tossed me a set of keys to a Cessna and told me “those are yours now.” Ever since, I have never looked back and take every opportunity to practice and train with the club. 

My formation pilot club 
I am the only female formation pilot in the flight club
The club trains above Long Island Sound in a free fly zone, but our air shows take us across the New York metropolitan area. Once, we had the pleasure of flying a show near the Freedom Tower. The Freedom Tower is a 21st century version of the statue of Liberty – a testament to everything great about America, and the country’s great promise. As a New Yorker, the 9/11 attacks affected my family and I greatly. Soaring through the skies near the tower with my fellow aviators was a pivotal moment in my life. I realized that everything I had accomplished, whether it was becoming a female commercial pilot or flying in a formation squadron, was only possible in America – the land of the free. 
While formation flying is great fun, the adrenaline rush is not the only reason I am so proud to call myself a formation pilot. The Israeli-New York flying club makes a point of taking wounded Israeli Defense Forces soldiers into the air so we can give back to the community, and those young men and women who sacrificed so much. Having come from a war-torn country, it saddens me greatly to see such fine young men and women wounded in the prime of their lives. Many of these young soldiers have only experienced flying as a weapon of war. Nothing can match the look on their faces when we soar through the skies and they realize that aviation can be pure and beautiful, rather than a tool for destruction. 

Another Israeli-New York flying club initiative that I am very proud of is our work with the local orphanage in New York City. I spend whatever free time I can volunteering at the orphanage, and have come to know the children quite well. The children are so kind and sweet, and as a mother, it breaks my heart to learn of their hardships. 
Many of the privileges that my children take for granted are completely unknown to these children. So, whenever I can, I bring these kids to the airport to give them a taste of the sky. At first, they didn’t believe me that I was a pilot and much less a formation pilot! I will never forget the look on their faces the first time they saw me at the airport leaning against my Cessna. It is even better once we are in the air, and I see the smiles flash across their faces. I want these kids to understand the same thing I learned as a child: there are no limits on what you can accomplish once you set your mind to something. 

Looking forward, I am hoping to plan an airshow for the Israeli-New York flying club over Sydney airport in Delaware County, upstate New York. Delaware County will always hold a special place in my heart. After we lost our family home in Hurricane Sandy, the people of Delaware county took us in. To this day, I have never seen a more beautiful part of the world or a people as kind and generous. 
Despite the natural beauty and the good-hearted nature of its people, there is great suffering in Delaware county. Shuttered factories and abandoned family farms litter the landscape, and many of its youth have lost hope in a brighter future. Considering what these people did for my family after we lost our home, I knew I had to give back somehow. Right now, I am organizing an airshow over Sydney airport in Delaware County for Memorial Day weekend. At the least, I know it’ll be a great occasion for the whole family to have fun and watch some amazing aerial acrobatics. But, if we can inspire just one child to set his or her sights a little higher, then I will say mission accomplished.
Flight Attendant Training in 2000!

Aside from the flight show, I am looking forward to attending the Women in Aviation International Conference in Orlando, Florida this May to share my story. After the conference and the flight show, I will be ready for my next big step in aviation. What that is I cannot say, but I know with the love and support of my friends, family and fellow aviators anything is possible."

First Flight!

I'm with Lily... 
anything is possible! 
Enjoy the Journey!
See you in Florida in March
XO Karlene 


  1. Congratulations, Lily! Thank you Karlene for this feature and was a pleasure reading Lily's story. Having had the pleasure myself of flight training and flying with the Israeli-NYFC, I totally agree you are among the best of best pilots. Have fun in Orlando and send regards!!!

    1. Jeremy, I was going to ask if this is where you flew. I thought so. Wait until you read her full story. Awesome. Thank you so much for your comment!!!


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