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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 22, 2011

Michelle Bassanesi

Friday Fabulous Flyer! 

Round New Zealand Air Race 2004
Resource Broker- Chief Operations Officer - Professional Pilot/Instructor - Mentor -ERAU Undergraduate. 
2011 AIRBUS Leadership Award 
"Impossible is ... only a stepping stone to success!" 

The following message flew into my computer last week, and I was compelled to respond.

"I have been keen on participating in air races and especially the ARC since I started flying in 2000. If it is not this year I DO HOPE IT WILL BE NEXT year, Why? because that’s when I turn 50! 

The Air Race Classic is always on my birthday week (June 23rd). What a great way it would be to celebrate my birthday and have fun learning doing what I love in the company of so many sisters in aviation! 

In April 2004 I participated In the New Zealand Air Race “044Fun” and truly had fun and got to see both the North and South Islands from above. What an awesome experience that was."

I, too, will turn 50 in 2012~ Inspiration hit... what if these two 50 year old women flew in this Air Race together?  I contacted Michelle and knew we would soon be friends.

Michelle is an Australian but has been living in Italy since 1977. Imagine moving from Sydney to Rome at the age of 15. Culture shock? Yes. But this experience gave Michell "unique skills, resilience and survival." 

 Her motto: "Impossible is ... only a stepping stone to success. This simply boils down to never take no for an answer."

A woman after my own heart. Everything good in my life has come because I refused to take no for an answer.  When I responded to Michelle's request, she shared her experience and her story. Since she, too, is going to be a writer we'll giver her a start now. 

Funny. Inspirational. Goal oriented. Focused. Dedicated. And she never accepts "no" for an answer. I love this woman! 

Michelle says... 

"At 38 I realized I could learn to fly and I did!

After High School I couldn't afford University so I went straight to work, as accountant secretary for an event servicing company in Rome. I am now COO for that same company.   

I took long service leave and moved to California for 6 months, where I achieved my FAA PPL, IR, and complex ratings plus 200 hours of flight time before heading back to Italy. 

99 In Italy

It has been a series of hiccups, work to raise funds - fly, run out of money, work to raise funds, fly, run out of money, work to raise funds, - to get the FAA and JAA ratings. 

Michelle and Seneca passed their check the next day!

I now have the JAA/FAA CPL IR MEL/SEL and CFI/CFII certificates, I am part-time flight instructor flying out of the Rome Urbe airport and I have been blessed with receiving various scholarships along the way. The most recent is the honor of receiving The Airbus Leadersip grant, funds that will be used towards my degree!

Examiner congratulates Michelle. She passed her initial JAA FI

Last year I was accepted in ERAU Worldwide and am working towards my BS in Professional Aeronautics with a minor in Aviation Management and Aviation Safety. I am part-time online  student and this has its challenges. 

You Soar Girls she mentored in Oshkosh 2010

My plan is to combine my 30+ years of business experience with my passion for aviation and create unique assets for one of my future job opportunities. I will be a corporate pilot soon, then at 85 I will be a commercial helicopter pilot and ... at 105 I will write a book! 

Left base turn to R34 LIRU

And in the meantime? I will enjoy the ride and the view :- )I have various dreams. One is to make aviation available and user friendly besides promoting and creating opportunities for other women who wish to enter aviation as a profession

Closing Hangar doors at the end of the night

Another is to be head of a corporate flight department and fly around the world in corporate jets! I enjoy mentoring high school girls and flight instructing, it’s the look in their eyes when they "get it" that makes it all worthwhile plus the fact that I have the unique opportunity of being able to teach what I love!
Mom and Daughter, Nicole Giacomarra

I am a single mum to beautiful 27 year old Nicole who is now, after 10 years of work experience, also back in school, at LUMSA university in Rome, full time."

Michelle is the "dream catcher" and her story are amazing. 

Born one month before Michelle, I am officially the older woman. And yes, I hugged my "Seneca" the day before my checkride, too. One of my three beautiful daughters is 27, as well. Do you think that a week flying together we'll be short of conversation? 

My goal... is to get checked out in a small plane and locate one to rent for the race next year. 

Thank you for sharing your story Michelle. You are definitely one Fabulous Flyer! 

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene


  1. what an inspirational story,Karlene san:)

    I love her passion,and I think that from her passion(Wants to fly),I get some power.

    I am going to study back.
    Thank you very much for sharing:)

    Have a wonderful day.

    P.S.I like to read Friday's fabulous Flyer.

  2. Thank you Jun! I love your comments. They always brighten my day. Study hard and keep inspiring!

  3. What a great story! I look forward to the future story of the time when you and Michelle flew in the Air Race together!


  4. Gr8 story! (especially love the life timeline with checkpoints @ 85 & 105!!!)

  5. I like her motto. Never take no for an answer.

    I'm sure a number of agents disagree though. Especially the ones hit by the writers who keep requerying them with the same query letter. ;)

  6. Hi Melodie, I can hardly wait to tell that story! Thank you!!!

  7. Hi Stina, that's funny! Yes... I'm sure agents won't like it. But... we can say, "No! You're wrong. This is a great story!" and not quit. :)

    Thanks for the comment!

  8. What a passionate and positive woman!

  9. Michelle is one amazing woman. What a great story, and YES, I definitely think it will be fantastic if you fly in the 2012 Air Race together. How cool would that be??

  10. I've already got my fairy wings dusted and am going over the formula for aerodynamics :- ) look forward to flying the ARC with you

  11. Michelle's story has me inspired to reach even higher! I love her motto about impossibility, that is priceless. Thank you so much for sharing her story Karlene! I can see the two of your flying together next year!

  12. Karlene, Thanks for sharing another inspirational (usually female) pilot or student with your readers. As usual, you find the best of the best.
    As as aside, I have to wonder about the real value of airplane races. Flying around pylons at high speeds and extreme bank and G levels must be exciting, but I'm not sure that it truly demonstrates significant skill. When they start flying a Figure-8 pattern, and step up for the post-race interview, I'll be impressed. I know, bad joke. Honestly, I do not see the point of 'speed contests' in a sport/profession that demands an extreme focus on safety. On my view, safety and competition should not appear in the same article. Love the post and Michelle B. is yet another of your wonderful discoveries. Keep on keeping on, please. -Craig

  13. Air Race Classic - The ARC Encourages and educates current and future women pilots; Increases public awareness of general aviation; Demonstrates women's roles in aviation; Presents and promotes the tradition of pioneering women in aviation ... Women’s air racing all started in 1929 with the First Women’s Air Derby. Twenty pilots raced from Santa Monica, CA to Cleveland, OH, site of the National Air Races. Racing continued through the ‘30’s and was renewed again after WWII when the All Women’s Transcontinental Air Race (AWTAR), better known as the Powder Puff Derby, came into being. The AWTAR held its 30th, final and commemorative flight in 1977. When the AWTAR was discontinued, the Air Race Classic, Ltd., (ARC) stepped in to continue the tradition of transcontinental speed competition for women pilots and staged its premier race. The Air Race Classic was reincorporated in 2002 into the Air Race Classic, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.

    The early air races were the “on to” type, with noon and night control stops, and the contestants more or less stayed together. In that manner, weather and flying conditions were practically the same for each entrant and the race officials could release standings to the media after each day of racing.

    The current race routes are approximately 2,400 statute miles in length, and the contestants are usually given four days, flying VFR in daylight hours, to reach the terminus. Each plane is assigned a handicap speed – and the goal is to have the actual ground speed be as far over the handicap speed as possible. The pilots are thus given the leeway to play the elements, holding out for better weather, winds, etc. The objective is to fly the “perfect” cross-country. In this type of race, the official standings cannot be released until the final entrant has crossed the finish line. Actually, the last arrival can be the winner.

  14. Thank you Heather! I need a goal for the year, now I need a plane!

  15. Hi Carl, I'm thinking that Michelle said it all about racing. Definitely not around pylons.

    This is my second race. I actually won my first in my Aztec, filled with women... my mom, sister and a couple girlfriends. Seattle to Jackpot Nevada... one leg, but we did good.

    This is a huge step for me. I'm thinking it will be a great opportunity to spend some time with a wonderful lady and a group of enthusiastic aviators.

    Thanks for your comment!

  16. Michelle, fairy wings dusted... yeah!

    I was laying in bed with my granddaughter looking at the stars... (Yes, I painted a canopy of trees in the bedroom, with glow in the dark stars that come out with lights out)...
    She said, "Grandma, I want to fly."
    I said, "Really?"
    And she said, "Yeah, I want wings so I can fly like Tinkerbell."

    Out of the mouths of babes.

    I'm flying this week! I will get in the sky...


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