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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, December 7, 2012

Melissa Huffman

Friday’s Fabulous Flyer! 

A couple weeks ago, Melissa and I connected on Facebook. She had sent me a message that she was a new student pilot who had started flying in September at Virgil Grissom Municipal Airport in Bedford, IN. 


Melissa said, “My Grandpa was a squadron leader in World War II and flew P-51 Mustangs. I am addicted to the air now, I have fallen In Love with aviation."

Grandpa named his plane Mary Jo. My Grandma's name was Mary, After the war my Grandpa had the chance to Buy his plane for $2,000.

Mellisa is working on her private's license and the commercial will be next. She also plans to attend College and get a degree in Aviation. The problem is, she does not have the money and is working on scholarships. Finances are always a challenge with aviation. It’s expensive. For Melissa, and everyone in her shoes, just put them on each day and walk to the airport. Get involved in the aviation community. There are so many people willing to help.

We are all introduced to aviation and our first flight a little differently. Melissa’s story brought a huge smile to my face.

“I met the Airport manager one day in town, I started talking to him because I loved his truck. He gave me his business card, because I asked about his Plane hat, that he had on and he told me to come by sometime.”

Well, she took him up on his offer and had an introductory flight on September 8th, and the following Wednesday she had her first flight Lesson. 

"The 1970 150 Cessna I am flying"

“That was the coolest feeling I've ever had in my life. I was flying high, it was the most amazing thing I've ever done. I instantly became hooked. I am so addicted to flying now. I have become an Airport bum.

My Parents were not to fond of the Idea when I first told them. I guess they thought I wouldn't stick with it and move on to something else. But the Airport manager just told me to follow my dreams and to not listen to people's Negative comments about my flying...Especially because I'm a female.

So I told him I was going to prove my parents wrong and one day be a pilot. So now I am following my dreams! I'm going big!”

I plan on Flying for UPS one day. After I get my Pilots/Commercial and a 4-year-degree in Aviation. I have already contacted a Manager at the UPS hub in KY and he gave me info and was very excited for me.”

 Melissa and her Grandpa. 

Melissa's Grandpa passed away last July. 

Melissa, I know that your Grandpa is smiling down upon you from the heaven,  
and will be sitting with you on your wing during each flight.
Which made me think about this song. 
 For you sweetie...


This is what life is all about—stopping to appreciate something, even if it’s just a truck. Opening that door to possibility. Take people up on their offer to go for a flight. Don’t listen to the negative, but believe in yourself and prove those people wrong. Reach out to friends for guidance and encouragement. Create a flight plan for your life. All that Melissa is doing is carrying her down the flightpath toward success.

Melissa, you have the etchings of success written all over you. Keep your dreams alive and enjoy each moment.  For another chance at a scholarship, Ruth Morlas is offering a $3000 scholarship.

Please take a moment to wish Mellissa the best of luck in her life, and career. She has strong wings, and I'm going to enjoy watching her fly.


When I emailed Melissa to tell her she was going live, she said,  

"I have another lesson on Wednesday and can't wait. I also this past week got to ride in a Decathlon, It was amazing and once we got up he let me take the controls. I flew a Decathlon! It was soooo cool!

I have become an official Airport bum haha.. I am always out here doing whatever I can to help out.
And I meet so many people like the guy who let me fly. And there are a lot of older guys too who have plenty of years of flying behind them. They all come out every week on Thursday mornings and have donuts and coffee and talk about their flying stories (and lies ;)" 

This is what hanging out at the airport will do for you. And she's learning all about the hangar talk. I recommend everyone should become an airport bum! Way to go Melissa!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 


  1. Karlene, you always pick the best people with the most amazing stories. Just by reading this story I have found so many connections to her beyond Indiana. Her grandfather's story is also a motivation for me. WW II ..especially today.. Pearl Harbor is a difficult time for many on both sides. What it must have been like for him being in the service during this time. And yes, Aviation is tremendously expensive. Because of that, my pilots log book is starving for hours. Melissa should definitely apply for those scholarships because she is destined not only to be an excellent aviatrix but also a scholar in aeronautical science. To Melissa, I am hoping to fly commercial cargo with you, however I'd prefer FedEx over UPS!

    1. Thanks Jeremy!
      Best of luck to you and your Fedex dream!
      Stick with it! and don't give up.
      I'm applying for so many scholarships and after I finish my Private's I plan on starting School.

    2. Jeremy, Thank you so much for the great comment. Yes, today is a difficult time for both sides. We can only put that in the past and hope we all learned. And Melissa, you will fly for UPS, and Jeremy for FedEx and both companies will be lucky to have you!

  2. Hanging around at airports is so much fun. I could do that every day :-) The love for aviation is apparent, and that will get you very far in this industry! Best of luck with your training Melissa!

    1. Thank you Cecilie!

    2. Thank you so much for your comment Cecilie! Yes, hanging out at the airport is a great thing to do. And I know Melissa, is going to make all her dreams come true.

  3. Kevin N. @knilson75December 7, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    A great story especially on a day like today. I'm very proud of Melissa for following in her grand fathers foot steps. You will make an awesome pilot for UPS. Just keep doing what you are doing. Study hard and fly high.

    1. Thank you so much Kevin. Yes, this was the perfect day for her, and for her grandfather. He is so proud of her. And excellent advice. One flight at a time, and she will get there!

    2. Thanks Kevin!
      Study hard yes... haha
      No pain,No gain ;]

  4. She has defiantly inspired me! I want to be a pilot too! And I am planning on getting my Private License soon! If my parents let me... I have always always dreamed of becoming an airline pilot. My grandfather was in the Air Force as well :)

    1. I am so happy! You will get your private. Did you apply for the scholarship?

      You can do this!!!!

    2. Awesome!
      No matter what you do Do Not give up!
      Like Karlene said there are plenty of people who are willing and want to help. It's amazing to see how different people are with Aviation. Pilot's stick together! One Big family. I hope you get to start lessons soon, Good luck!

  5. Melissa will make it -- she already has the gumption to contact UPS when starting out as a student pilot. That's awesome. Good luck, Melissa! You have a lot of people rooting for you.
    Cheers, Syd

    1. Thanks so much Syd!

    2. Thank you Syd! She does have gumption. We can see more of her on Monday. :) Come back and see what she has to say.

  6. Best of luck to Melissa. I hope she gets the scholarships she needs to make her dream come true.

    1. Thank you Heather! I do too. She's a great young lady who is going to make all her dreams come true.

  7. Melissa, have you thought about setting up a way people can donate to help you with your flying lessons? Thru the power of modern technology, it's amazing what you'd be able to accomplish. $5 here, $10 there from people adds up significantly as your message gets out there. Maybe come up with a number you need to raise to help get you thru your commercial ticket and then commit to donate the rest to an aviation scholarship organization (if you are fortunate enough to raise more than you require for your own education). Just a thought. Never give up the dream. Every picture I snap while flying by myself is always accompanied by the thought "this never gets old". Best of luck to you. Blue skies!

    1. Jeff, Thank you so much for your comment. This is a great idea. But I really appreciate the pilots who are out there just doing what it takes to get the job done. Sometimes the gifts come without asking. Did you see the scholarship info? You can help by gifting greeting cards. And check out Monday... Melissa entered. I'm posting her entry.

  8. Melissa, I still didn't meet you yet, but I am proud of you! You know what? My father told me I wasn't going to become a good pilot for no reason... This happened 2 months ago and this hit my plane hard and crushed my fuselage and I had to perform and emergency landing. My plane landed, but I didn't remain on the ground, I took off with maximum thrust with a new strong structure and powerful engines. I also discovered a route with tailwinds to help me fly bravely trough the clouds and storms. I am saying this to give an example of never giving up, doesn't matter who says negative comments about you. Lovely story you have! Karlene, Jeremy is right, you always bring the best stories! This one struck me.

    1. I'm pondering the reason your Dad said this. But it doesn't matter the why. Because, do you know what he gave you by his statement? A stronger structure and more powerful engines.
      Never give up Melissa! And thank you so much Alex for a great comment!

  9. Alex, Thank you so much. I am glad you continued with your dreams to fly, Reminds me of the book I just got done readingFlight To Heaven by Capt Dale Black, he was in a horible plane accident with two other men. He was only 19 and was the only survivor, He was told he would never fly/walk again and as he sat there in the hospital bed he told his family he would fly over the monument they crashed into a year later on the same day, Through God's grace and help he did it! He didn't let anyone's negative comments etc, affect his life.
    I will never give up flying as long as I live! It's my new LOVE in life and I know I'd be letting Mr.Sexton down and myself too.

    1. Thank you for your comment Melissa! That sounds like a great book! I had another sent to you for Christmas. I hope you got it!

  10. Hey there Melissa,

    I received your e-mail through GWW at work today, after a cold morning on the flight line. It was very appreciated, thank you for the sweet sentiment, this is truly an amazing career, and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to serve and to fly! It sounds like you’re well on your way to flying for UPS or any other company of your choosing. I’ve heard wonderful things about UPS, and the word is that the civilian aviation industry is going to be in desperate need of talented new pilots to fill their ranks! How far along/what phase are you in your flight training? What school are you looking at attending, and what will your major be? I’d love to hear about your endeavors, we need more women in the cockpit. We bring a set of skills to the field of aviation that I think you’ll find are very valuable and appreciated by our male counterparts, so keep it up!

    If you have any questions, I’d be happy to help in any way I can. (my initial e-mail was returned so I followed the link lol... my best e-mail is

    Hope this finds you having a wonderful day!
    -Jessie Freeman

    1. Thank you Jessie! I will email Melissa and let her know to come and read your incredible comment. THANK YOU!

  11. So..another update since December 11th.
    I won the Scholarship from Pilottricks!
    I'm also super close to solo-ing.
    I got sponsored to go to the Women in aviation International Conference in Nashville, TN and got to meet Karlene! and another amazing woman Syd Blue.
    An awesome week for sure and It will definitely not be my last conference :]
    Thank you Karlene for all of your support, Encouragement and connections to many wonderful people in the Aviation family.
    Since I've been flying more my Parents have been so supportive and can't wait for me to become a pilot one day :]

    1. Melissa, this is all so exciting. And I was so glad I had the opportunity to meet you!!!

      Okay... so here's the deal....

      Wait be a pilot one day? No Melissa... YOU ARE A PILOT!

      Read this... and always believe.


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