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"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 29, 2011

Katja Jourdan

Friday Fabulous Flyer!

Katja Jourdan

May 21st, Katja Jourdan is hosting a Fly It Forward event at Kingston-Ulster Airport, N.Y. 

What's amazing about this event, and Katja, is that she is only 17 years old. Her first flight lesson was on September 26, 2010.  And she just soloed on March 20, 2011. Yesterday she passed her written! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term "written," that's the first--huge, and very stressful-- test, that every pilot must pass as a step to obtaining their license. And this flying event? Well, this began as her Senior Project.

Katja's life has been an adventure for as long as she can remember. She's a world traveler who was born in Arizona, moved to Germany, back to Arizona, to California, then to New York... and all before the age of five!

Katja Jourdan Taking a Flight Lesson

She hadn't always wanted to fly, actually, not until last Spring when she got bitten by the aviation bug, and looked to the sky. As a young child her first career goal was to become an astronaut. It wasn't long until she came back to earth with dreams of becoming a teacher, nurse, surgeon, doctor, child-care provider, and ultrasound technician.

Inspiration comes in many ways.

When I asked Katja when she became interested in flying, she shared a wonderful story:

"During spring break last year, I went to the MOSI museum in Florida and viewed Operation Red Flag in an iMAX dome theater. The film was about fighter pilots at some training place called Red Flag--it was love at first sight. The dome theater setting also gave the feeling that you were actually sitting in the cockpit of the jets they were filming from inside of. I later talked to my cousin (a load-master in the AF for C117s) about my new found love. My cousin is also a CFI, so he was thrilled to hear of my new interest. He sent me his old private pilot books/DVDs and words of advice for success... and I was on my way!

Fun fact: I actually didn't want to view the fighter pilot movie at the museum... Wall*E was also playing and I insisted that my family and I viewed that instead. Fortunately, I lost that battle against my parents :)"

The Movie that Inspired the Dream

Katja is a senior at Ulster County BOCES-- a technical school that allows high school students attend for half the school day--- and Rondout Valley High School.

At BOCES, Katja is enrolled in the Aviation program where she is studying flight training and will graduate June 14th.

Next Fall she will attend Jacksonville University in Florida to continue flight training, and major in business with flight operations and ATC. Her goal is to one day fly with me at Delta. Well, I added the "Delta" part because I would love to fly with her. But one of the major airlines will be lucky to have this dynamic young lady come knocking at their door.

Checking out the Cirrus

Katja has also been recognized by the "New York State Project for Nontraditional Employment and Training as a nontraditional student with excellent academic performance and dedication to her career path in aviation." Wow... and that was a mouthful. This project, also known as the NET project, looks for students involved in "nontraditional" careers... where their sex makes up less than 25% of the total workforce. Being that less than 6% of pilots are women, I'm thinking that flying fit that requirement.

Katja was nominated by her aviation ground school teacher, she wrote an essay, then was selected as a finalist and ultimately, as one of the winners. She received an award along with a small amount of money, that went directly to the airport.

Rochell (Mom), Udo (Dad), Katja and Briana (Sister)

Katja, how does your family feel about your flying?

"My family is very supportive of me flying. My mother always wanted to fly... her and my father are actually quite jealous. My sister accepts it, and actually is becoming more and more interested in aviation. I make her study with me all of the time so she already knows a lot more than any other beginner would know"

Briana and Katja

Katja, can you tell us what it's like to fly?

"I feel so free when I'm in the air... like I'm on a high (no pun intended) and nothing can stop me. Taking off and watching the world shrink beneath you just makes you realize how much the world has to offer, possibilities are endless.

Flying is also so rewarding, I always feel so accomplished after I finish for the day--I am ALWAYS learning something new. I can be in the worst of moods when I begin my lesson, but after I'm airborne, I completely forget whatever was bothering me and I feel great. Most times, I don't ever want to stop. 

A professor at Vaughn College said, "once the aviation bug has bitten, it will never go away." And I agree 100%, once you get that first taste you're hooked. Flying has also given me a means of motivation and encouragement for anything life throws my way--when I think something will be challenging, I recall my first solo flight and say to myself,  that if I can fly an airplane all by myself and walk away in one piece, then doing _______ will be a piece of cake"

Checking out the 737

On her way home from visiting colleges in Florida, her mother asked the male flight attendant, "Do you guys do anything special for future pilots?"

The flight attendant asked the first officer, and he said, "she can come in the cockpit... but only if she's cute."

Katja said, "They both looked at me and let me in the cockpit with open arms. It was great... but man, did I have a hard time trying to figure out how to get in the seat without knocking things over!"

That's pretty funny Katja, because we all have a hard time without knocking things over in the 737.

In her spare time-- between school, flying and planning flying events-- Katja has many loves:

"Planes, red hair, warm sunny weather, colorful things (tie-dye!), and the movie Into The Wild. When I'm not playing with planes I like to... Go on walks, spend time with my sister, Zumba!, read, (try) and be artistic, cook, run, listen to music, hike, ride bikes, I could go on forever... "

Katja, "inspiring" is the only word to describe you. Good luck on your Senior Project, and your career.  I know everything you do, you will be a huge success! I'm looking forward to the day when we can fly together.

Katja's Senior Project

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene


  1. Fabulous is right. This is great, Katja. That part about how flying can lift your mood, no matter how bad it is really resonated with me, and I've only flown as a passenger in a little plane. But that was what I found so appealing that made me think I, too, might like to learn to fly. Great post, Karlene, thanks.

  2. A young woman who knows what she wants and is motivated enough to go after it, I love that! Best of luck to Katja, I have no doubt she'll fly far and high!

  3. Katja is another one! She caught the bug, has the brains and this young woman is going to fly. If the US majors had any brains, they would have (small) programs to grab a few of the sharpest youngsters like Katja very early and nurture them into a long, productive professional career. Even without that, Katja has already found her nitch and I wish her the best. Oh yea... She's a cutie as well. (I know that that last comment is not PC, but I'm old enough to get away with it, once in a while !)-Craig

  4. Katja ... you are truly one FABULOUS FLYER!!!
    What more to add but ... enjoy the view, and the ride. Wish I lived closer, I would have loved to participate in your senior project.

  5. Katja is an amazing person! Where theres a will, there really is a way to do anything you set your mind to. Best of luck to you and your pursuit of an aviation career! :)

  6. Thank you Linda... Katja made it easy to write... she's an inspiration for sure. Take lessons!!! :)

  7. Thanks for your comment Heather. I know she appreciates it. A rising star for sure.

  8. Thanks for the great comment Craig, and the excellent idea. If the airlines were smart, they would snatch these inspiring pilots up... there are not enough of them to go around.
    If you're old enough to get away with saying she's a cutie... go for it! I keep telling my husband he can get away with that stuff too.
    Yes... she is. And brilliant!

  9. Thanks for your comment Michelle! I wish I could be there too. Babyshower in Seattle is keeping me home. There will be more great events, I'm sure!

  10. Thanks for the comment Katie... I'm thinking, "Senior Project"


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