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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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why We Give Free Flights

Last week at the Women In Aviation Conference I met Thea McKellar. Thea won a scholarship to attend the Women in Aviation conference for the essay she'd written. The contest was for 14-17 year-olds and the prize was an airplane ticket, shuttle from the airport, hotel, and conference registration. All compliments of her local chapter. WAIAtlanta


"Airports and airplanes have always thrilled me. When I was little, flying seemed like magic to me. I loved meeting the pilots in their cockpits and observing the array of lights and buttons; how on earth could anyone ever learn what everything there means and does? But most incredible thing to me now is what airports and airplanes accomplished: the power to travel the world in a most fast and efficient way. Since the beginning of time people have dreamed of flying, and now in the past 200 years we have figured out how. I feel so fortunate to live in this time and have the opportunity to learn about and use this technology that opens up more places of our planet to more people.

When I was thirteen, my family went on a vacation to Belize. Due to the many flights on that trip, I realized that maybe I would like to learn how to fly, and my interest to travel and see the world was sparked. Since then, I have gone through the King’s private pilot DVD ground school course. Three years ago, I joined Civil Air Patrol and have now earned the rank of Cadet Senior Master Sergeant. With Civil Air Patrol I have studied and had many aerospace classes and gone on flights with the program. I have been accepted this summer’s Civil Air Patrol powered flight academy at Oshkosh and I hope to solo there. Last summer I went to Bob Jones University’s aviation camp and was privileged to fly Cessna 172s, Diamond 40s, and 20s. I had an absolute blast at that camp and it was there that my love for aviation and dream to become a pilot was cemented.

In the next five to ten years, I am not quite sure where life will take me! Ultimately, I would like to study for a degree in journalism, and get flight training to become a professional pilot, and hopefully fly commercially. But like one of my favorite aviation heroines, Betty Greene, I have aspirations to benefit my community and world. I would like to combine my passion for flying with my heart for mankind. I would like to volunteer my flying capabilities to nonprofit organizations and humanitarian groups. I would also like to write for aviation, about aviation and my experiences, whether it be in a book, magazine, or blog.

I wish to attend this conference to be inspired and pushed even more to accomplish my dreams in aviation. While I know this is my dream, all dreams require hard work and can be daunting and a little intimidating at times. The encouragement and support I have already received from the many fabulous individuals in my local Women in Aviation chapter has been wonderful, and I can only imagine what a whole conference would be like. I love learning and getting as much knowledge as I can about this vast industry, and I know this conference will be a fantastic bundle of information!

I feel extremely grateful to be blessed with the opportunity this scholarship presents, and if accepted, I will try to relish it to its full extent. Thank you for considering me, and your generosity in providing this scholarship. I know this will be a trip to Texas I will not soon forget!"

A beautiful essay Thea, and I'm so glad you won. It was so nice to meet you and I'll look forward to seeing you again one day~ Our paths will cross again.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene


  1. Flying is definitely magic at its best! We have aircraft now that can circumnavigate a ⅓ of the globe, if not a little more, without stopping to refuel and making their destinations with time to spare. Our journeys are similar as I wanted to learn to fly due to flying as a passenger. Congratulations on your awarded time at the conference and may your flight to success soar to many far and higher distances with record time to spare!

  2. Wow! This is truly amazing! I feel the exact same way about aviation as Thea does. Getting bit by the aviation bug at the age of only 5 months (Traveling from Oslo to Miami with Tower Air on the 747), since then - many flights, both commercially and in smaller planes.

    Aviation is a very special field, and I am so happy more and more are joining in. Especially girls!

    Karlene, the only thing I can think of that benefits female pilots going through flight training, is that there is rarely a line to go to the bathroom :)

    I can't wait to read more from you, Thea!

    1. Cecilie, that is so true! I always had the bathroom to myself during every training program. An... getting bit by such a wonderful bug at the age of 5 is amazing and life changing.
      Thank you so much for the comment!

  3. Thea, congratualtions! That was a wonderful essay, and I love your aspirations. Combining writing and flying can definitely be done. :-) Your story is so inspiring, I hope lots of young women read it and follow in your footsteps.

    1. Thank you Linda, she is very much an inspiration for sure. I know there are many following in her footsteps. Thank you so much for your comment!

  4. Yay! Thanks so much for posting =) Thanks for the encouragement; it means so much to me!

    1. Thea, You are such an inspiration. You encourage all of us. I love your essay!!!


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