Friday's Fabulous Flyer!
For much of the public, TV shows like Flying Wild Alaska have eliminated much of the mystery surrounding Alaskan aviation and sparked an interest in the state’s stunningly rugged terrain, the exciting flying stories, and the lives of its bush pilots.
For many of the pilots who live there, though, Alaskan flying is more sobering than the daring near-misses shown on TV.
Meet Colleen Mondor: historian, pilot, writer, and more.
A pilot since she was eighteen, Colleen is a voracious historian at heart. She harbors a thriving interest in science fiction, especially the works of Ray Bradbury, and describes herself as “the family genealogist.” Her book, The Map of My Dead Pilots, describes her experiences working for a small commuter company in Fairbanks and details what really happens when the TV cameras aren’t watching.
She says of her book, “It has been interesting meeting people in the wake of my book’s release. So many people have ideas about what flying professionally in Alaska is like, and the power of those myths and misconceptions is really quite daunting. The bitter truth about the state’s aviation industry is that many of the accidents, among commercial operations in particular, are completely avoidable and should be avoided.”
However, the outside influences pressuring pilots to fly are felt even more strongly in our most northern state. “The pressure to fly – from passengers, the USPS, other companies, your own inner, demons, etc. – often makes bad choices seem like the only choices. I wrote Map to put a face on the business – to make people see how accidents happen and why they should not. It’s easy to watch TV and think it’s the wild west, but living there every day makes you realize that the frontier image is not worth dying for.”
Q: Where you live and what you do for a job. How did you get interested in aviation? Any pilots, or aviation people in your family?
A: I live in Fairbanks, AK and Anacortes, WA (avoiding AK during the colder months nowadays). I obtained a BS degree in Aviation Mgmt mostly because of my stepfather's affiliation with my college. He was career USAF and thought a management degree in the aviation industry was a smart profession.
I was mostly persuaded because Top Gun came out the summer I graduated from high school. Once I was in school, it was easy to stay, as the guys outnumbered the girls by a tremendous margin. I know none of this sounds particularly impressive, but when you are 17 and the school is in your hometown on the beach and you can keep surfing while you attend classes, well, it's easy to see why I went along with it!
Q: How did you get to where you are today? Would you have changed anything?
A: I couldn't plan this route if I tried. In retrospect, I wish I had majored in history first rather than get that degree the second time around, as it really is my first love and the assignments taught me how to be a better writer.
Q: What were your greatest obstacles and how did you conquer them?
A: Sheer stubbornness has gotten me through pretty much every tough spot to come my way. It's how I learned to catch a wave and fly and airplane and everything else. I just didn't quit.
Compliments of Christine Hollingsworth.
Colleen, I try not to regret or want a do over in my life. But... of the things I would do over would be a different degree myself.
That old saying... if I only knew.
Colleen, keep making history! Christine thank you for a great interview!
Enjoy the Journey!
I'm happy to see Colleen showing up at your blog -- excellent choice! May I include here a link to my review of her book, Map of My Dead Pilots", and a suggestion that y'all need to read it 'cause it's GOOD.
Thank you so much Frank. Good things come to those who wait. Or, go after them. :) Thank you for sharing the link to the review of her book. I hope everyone drops by to read it!! And the book too!Delete
Wonderful interview and story, thanks, Christine! I love what Colleen said about the difference between truth and fiction with flying in Alaska: 'the frontier image is not worth dying for.' And she's committed and passionate about flying and making it safe. Impressive. p.s. remember Northern Exposure, with Maggie, the bush pilot? Great show. Christine, you're too young unless you watched the reruns, but I'll bet Karlene remembers :)ReplyDelete
Linda, I do remember. And she is so write about the many accidents that should be avoidable. One flight at a time. The wild frontier has a lot of work to do. This is an amazing woman and she's an author too.Delete
Thanks so much for your comment!
Wow, a pilot at 18?! I can't even imagine achieving my dreams to early. Good for her! And I love that she just didn't quit. That is the key. Thanks for introducing us to Colleen!ReplyDelete
Thank you for the comment Heather. Oh... many pilots begin at 15 and 16. But the flying she was doing at 18... that is the amazing part. Never quitting is the key to success. If we don't quit. We won't fail. And we all need that reminder once and awhile too. Keep working toward those dreams.Delete
Great first Friday Flyer post Christine! Colleen Mondor seems like a wonderful woman and a true role model for aspiring pilots!ReplyDelete
Never quit, that's probably the most powerful, yet inspirational combination of two words I've ever heard.
Thank you Cecilie! Never quit. Two of my favorite words too!Delete
Amazing story! Like Heather said, thanks for introducing Colleen. I always put in my head to never quit, and I won't! Even though, life, sometimes, insists on trying to make you quit, but we can win this war. That's the key to success, it is not hard to realize, even if it's hard to resist. But we can't forget concentration! By the time, we see that this involves other elements. Be brave, fight it and lead it.ReplyDelete
Alex, I have no doubt you will succeed because you won't quit. You have that spirit and inner strength to do anything. While you might be tested once in awhile, you just keep passing those tests. Pretty soon life's little challenges will put a smile on your face as you accept them for only what they are. Moments to shine.Delete
Thanks for your comment!
Thank for the kind words everyone!ReplyDelete
You are so welcome!Delete
Coleen Fantasic Job with the book. Wonderful to see the aviation spirit alive in those who might not see the art, the ambition, the strength, stamina and will power to do it. As Amelia said Never Interupt Someone Doing What you said Couldnt be done.. You are paving a path and plotting a "Map" So that Others can learn from your experience. Your Journey is all yours... But it really will touch us all...Along for the ride..DarinReplyDelete
Darin, I love this comment... Never Interupt Someone Doing What you said Couldnt be done. Fabulous. Thank you so much for your thoughts, and great praise of a great woman!Delete
Congratulations, Colleen on being the Friday Flyer and Christine for an outstanding interview. I remember watching "Flying Wild Alaska" with my father and really enjoy that show. Such an outstanding individual she is. Thank you for choosing her!ReplyDelete
Thank you for the great comment Jeremy. She is an incredible lady. I'm thinking we should all go to Wild Alaska.Delete