Contract Airline Services

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

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, 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. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cassie Matthews

Friday Fabulous Flyer!

Cassie Mathews

A few weeks ago I was at Renton Airport cleaning airport seats and I got to watch Cassie Mathews take her solo flight. I was upset because I'd deleted her pictures from my computer. But when Cassie heard what I'd done, she sent me some that her instructor had taken. And since then I've had the chance to learn a little more about this female aviator soaring into the sky and kissing the runway at Renton Airport.

Solo Success!

I love meeting new pilots and finding what it's like for them to fly, and their greatest challenges.

Cassie, originally from Port Aransas, Texas, a small "touristy" town on a barrier island on the Texas gulf coat, has wanted to fly a plane as long as she can remember. She told me that while growing up her friend's father had a plane and would fly in to to coach their soccer game, while they'd spent hours driving to location. How neat is that? Enough to spark the ambition of a young lady to want to do the same thing. 

She lived College Station, TX, for five years, and after graduating from Texas A&M University in mechanical engineering she headed up to Seattle to work for Boeing.

She has been in Seattle for four years now and is currently a Structural Analysis Engineer at Boeing, and works for Fleet Support Engineering on the 757 and 727 fuselage structures. 

Happy Landing

Cassie has been flying for a year now and her greatest challenge?

"Seattle's weather!"

I'll vouch for that. But after her Sunday flight, and huge amount of perseverance battling the elements, schedules and paperwork ... all while working full time... she has a total of 34 hours.

Her other greatest flying challenge, beyond mother nature's wrath:

"It took me a little while to get used to talking on the radio. I'm getting  a lot better at it, but I still freeze up sometimes. Also it's challenging because there is so much going on at one time that you have to pay attention to. For a pilot it is definitely important to be good at multi-tasking."

Cassie, not uncommon for new pilots. As your confidence increases, so will your radio skills. I like the multi-tasking observation. I hear women are really good at that. ;)

How do you feel about flying and how far your plan to go with your training?

"I just love to fly. It's an amazing feeling and although it is challenging, I really think it's a ton of fun. I'm not sure how far I would like to go with this.  I might get my instrument rating after my private license, but I mainly would like to be able to fly for recreational purposes. There are so many more factors than I ever realized that go into flying a plane, but I've really enjoyed learning all about it!"

Cassie and Mom, Mary Jo Matthews, overlooking Elliot Bay

I was so thrilled to be watching you solo. Can you tell me what it felt like?

"I was really excited/anxious/nervous as I was starting up the engine and right as I was turning onto the runway, but after I took off, I was just happy and excited, and the nerves mostly went away, and I was concentrating on what I needed to do.  I knew Mike was watching so I was hoping he was approving of what was going on up there.  It's a real confidence booster doing it alone your first time... a little like taking off training wheels."

The very cool thing was Mike, her flight instructor, was standing on the ramp with a headphone and portable radio so he could talk to her while she flew. 30 years ago when I took my solo flight, my instructor watched from the tower and we didn't talk until after I'd landed. Times have certainly changed.

Cassie, if you could give new pilots any message, what would that be?

"It's a major time and money commitment, but it is completely worth it if you enjoy flying as much as I do. I also think it was helpful to have done some actual flying lessons already when I took grounds school, because it's easier to understand the theory you are learning when you've experience it firsthand. Also, I might recommend getting your medical certificate taken care of ahead of time or at least as one of the first things you do."

Taking a couple lessons before ground school is a great idea! It makes everything make so much sense. And excellent plan on the medical, too. Then there won't be any delays on your journey into the sky.

Final approach

Cassie, we all wish you luck with your flying. I know a few lady pilots in the area who are learning to fly, too. Maybe I could connect you all and you can share the journey. Share the plane. Share the experience. Share the expense. And fly together. Might be fun.

Fly safe and keep the blue side up! Please keep us posted on your continued progress.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene


  1. Best of luck to Cassie! It sounds like she has an excellent career in the sky ahead of her. I know exaclty what she means about talking on the radio, it takes a bit of getting used to!

  2. I like that "multitask" comment. I'll admit that I'm good at that in an airplane. Watch student, traffic, situational awareness, and listen for the tower at the same time.
    Take me out of the plane, put me on the phone with someone else, and try talking to me. I'll pretty much lock up and not hear anything from anyone!
    I get in trouble often when that happens. I attribute that to some flaw in my male gender.
    I'm hoping Karlene can explain that to me. ;-)

    "shush! I'm on the phone!"

  3. Of course, congratulations on the solo too! That's a huge step. Spring might be here eventually, so the solo hours hopefully add up.
    See you in the pattern!

    -RNT CFI

  4. I always love to read accounts from first solo flights. Thanks for sharing Cassie's experience!

  5. It must be especially interesting flying out of Renton since Seatac is right there. We have enough issues at Auburn trying to stay under our 1600-foot shelf, never mind being any closer than we are. That's so cool that you soloed, Cassie! Congratulations! :)


Thank you for your comment! If your comment doesn't appear immediately, it will after I land. Enjoy the journey!