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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, August 31, 2012

Michelle Bassanesi

Friday's Fabulous Flyer 


Chief Operations Officer / Professional Pilot and Instructor / Board Member for non-profit / Aviation Education Consultant

Michelle, a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide, working toward her Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics Degree with minors in Aviation Safety and Management is on not only in the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society, but on the Dean’s List with a G.P.A. of 4.0/4.0, too. Studying Crew Resource Management and Multi Crew Coordination, she has her Master CFI accreditation and has earned various Leadership Awards and Scholarships in recognition of exceptional achievements.

She inspired 300 women in growth, leadership, and empowerment during the Leadership and Female Empowerment Workshop in Rome, the Leadership Development for Women In Aviation Conference in Johannesburg, and the Women Fly program in Seattle.

Michelle signing Karin's Intro Flight Certificate

She’s Engaged, inspired, and educated 60 young women to pursue their dreams in aviation and beyond during the Women Soar, You Soar program. She has provided women the tools necessary to develop their pilot careers and leadership through the Ninety Nines Professional Pilot Leadership Initiative.

Michelle with Luca Private Pilot
Now Instrument Pilot at Georgia Tech

Michelle was an elected board member after less than six months as a member and transformed PWA – Professional Women's Association of Rome into a non-profit organization and successfully set up online payment and reservation solutions. She has facilitated as International Liaison in Europe, aviation support groups for WAI – Women in Aviation International, and SAWIA – Southern African Women in Aviation.

Women of Aviation Dallas Texas 2012

What is so amazing about Michelle—besides the fact she is truly an amazing and giving woman—is she started this stage of her life when she was 38 years old, and a single parent. 

                               Michelle, Mary Feik and me Women of Aviation 2012

Michelle began her aviation adventure in 2000 when she started flying at the age of 38. Please join me as we learn more about what makes this woman tick.

Karlene: At 38-years old, most people are established in their careers. Why did you wait so long to fly?

Michelle: "I came to the point in my life when I finally realized I could start living my dream today.” 

                     hugging the seneca one before taking her commercial multi instrument checkride

Karlene: I know being a single parent and starting you flying career later in life has got to be filled with obstacles. What has been your greatest struggle has been?

Michelle:  “Juggling non-aviation and aviation related work and study life together with life’s challenges. Recovering my mobility after a bad accident that left me three months in a wheel chair in 1993, being a single mum, moving from Australia to Italy at the age of 15, losing my “little” sister to cancer 3 years ago, just to name a few.”

St Augustine, FL as CFI in an Arrow

Karlene: I am so sorry for all your struggles, and your loss. Sometimes I wonder if we are just being tested to see if we are willing to give up.  But you never do, and prove despite all obstacles that we can fulfill our dreams.

One of the most common questions, or concerns, with people who are thinking and dreaming about doing exactly what you are doing—flying later in life— is the question and fear that they may be too old. The fact that you started flying at 38 years old is amazing. What would you tell others about following your path?

Michelle: Just do it! Believe in yourself, stay focused, and have fun.

               The examiner congratulates Michelle on passing her initial JAA flight instructor certificate
Karlene: Sounds simple. But that seriously is the power behind success. I know that both you and your daughter are in college at the same time, and both anticipating graduation in 2015. What will you do after your graduate?

Michelle: PHD together with you on aviation safety and in CRM training improvements, be hired as aviation friendly airport executive, continue flying around the globe in jets (I will be hired as a pilot before I graduate hopefully), at 85 I will fly helicopters and at 105 I will write a book.

Michelle and her daughter at a summer concert
Karlene: Michelle, I have no doubt you will fulfill all these dreams despite the pending struggles that we both know are ahead. And now we’ve said it. 2015 you will be my catalyst to get me back into school.

flight planning on the wing

Michelle is applying for the Delta Air Lines Aviation Maintenance Management/Aviation Business Management Scholarship. Delta Air Lines will award a $5,000 scholarship to a student currently enrolled in an Associate or Baccalaureate degree in Aviation Maintenance Management or Aviation Business Management. I’m hoping this will go to a most deserving woman—Michelle Bassanesi 

 Michelle at Women Soar 2012

Please join me in wishing her the best luck on receiving this honor. And this scholarship couldn’t come at a better time. Her daughter has been facing some serious medical issues, and this may be the year that Michelle might have to postpone renewing her licenses, and take some time off from school. Her dedication and love of the industry, passion for flight, and all she’s done for the hundreds of women pursing their dreams, I hope that won’t be the case.

We are all with you Michelle. Enjoy the journey and 2013 we will come and visit you in Rome.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

 Flight For Safety: 95,388 words, first draft.


  1. All I can say is Michelle is proof that it's never too late to take off start flying. What an amazing pilot she is. (Love the intro flight certificate!)

    Personally, I started the journey this year at 35 years young. After reading this and what Michelle has accomplished, it has definitely maintained a drive for me to keep doing what I am doing to unleashed my infinite potential.

    And yes, I would like to see the both of you obtaining your Ph.Ds in Aviation Safety. To you both, a great Labor Day weekend!

    Cheers Xoxo

    1. Jeremy, I am so glad that this has motivated you. I remember thinking if I didn't have a job by the time I was 23, it was too late. How times have changed.

      Thanks...and we definitely will!

      Happy Labor Day weekend to you too! Hope you have a great weekend.

  2. Totally Amazed! I don't have any words/

    1. Sometimes "no" words speak volumes. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Amazing story! It is never too late to realize your potential and follow your dreams! In my university class, there are many older people, following their educational dream path :-)

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks for the comment Cecilie. I think 50 is the new 35. :) Michelle and I both had our 50th birthday's this year, and your mom too. Tell her I said that.

      I hope school is going well.

  4. This is one of the most inspiring Fab Flyers yet, wow! Michelle has done so much and overcome so many obstacles. I wish her all the best.

  5. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but
    your blogs really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later.
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    1. Thank you so very much!!! I really appreciate it.

  6. Karlene, I'm so glad I found your blog! I listened to a podcast interview that you did and I am now following you! I'm in my mid-30s and I am considering starting a career as a pilot. I'm a mom so I have several concerns about this. You have inspired me to move past the fear. I did my first intro flight two years ago when my daughter was only a year old. I loved it but I was scared to pursue because she was so young. Thank you for this blog! I will continue to reach out to you for inspiration throughout my journey .

    1. Nneka, Thank you so much for your comment! And, yes... you can do this. My first recommendation is read Flight To Success be the Captain of your Life, as you will read stories of those starting later in their life. It might help with that lift to follow your dreams Side note... I didn't start with Northwest Airlines until I was 30, and half the class was older than me.
      I'm looking forward to meeting you!
      Tomorrow I'll be in Vancouver CA. Friday Saturday in Puyallup WA for the weekend, and March will be attending the Women of Aviation Conference in Nashville. I hope we can connect someplace! Email me and we'll make that happen!


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