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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, March 29, 2013

Juliet Lindrooth

Friday’s Fabulous Flyer

 Stearman at EMAM
Juliet Lindrooth

The Women’s Air Race Classic is getting ready to take off from Pasco Washington on June 18. And today we meet a racers. Not just any racer, but Juliet is part of The Wunder Woman Team. She is also an American Airlines Pilot, and a woman who had no easy task of making her dreams come true.

The world is sprinkled with people who have vision, clarity, and determination. But how many of those people also have the ability to keep going even life continues to put the chocks under their plane? Juliet’s story is one of conviction and determination. And as you read the events that transpired across this fabulous woman’s life, know that there is nothing you cannot overcome and surpass if you work hard enough for your dreams and never give up.

It’s my great pleasure to introduce Juliet Lindrooth. (And her planes)

Stearman at EMAM

“Early on in my life I knew I wanted to fly. At the age of three, I informed my parents that I was going to be a pilot when I grew up. There was a little pat on the head, smile, nod and a “sure honey”. My resolve never faded. Every Halloween, I dressed in some sort of flying costume and went out with my friends. At the age of 15 my father, who was a United Airlines Pilot, finally asked me the question I had been waiting for my whole life—if I really wanted to really learn to fly. I jumped up and screamed, “yes!”

3000 going for a flight at EMAM

Could I really do this? Could I really learn to fly? A few days later, I took my first introductory flight. My Uncle had taken me up once when I was 13 in his Cessna 172 and my Dad had taken me up in a helicopter, but had never actually flown an airplane. So there I was, 15 years old, sitting in a Cessna 152 and learning to fly. I didn’t even know how to drive a car yet, but I was learning to fly. The feeling was thrilling.

Stearman in grass at EMAM
Back at high school, the boys quickly became either awed by my pursuits or intimidated by my passion for flying. When they asked me out, my response was, “thanks, but I’m going flying after school.” I soloed on my 16th birthday. I think I was way too excited to be scared. At 16, most kids don’t understand the risks. I know I didn’t. It was just a dream come true to take that plane up by myself. I never wanted that instructor in the plane with me again. What a day.

The champ returning from barnstorming
A few days later I got my drivers license. That was in 1979. I had to complete my cross-country flights and practice for my check ride. Sadly, the fuel crunch of 1979/1980 put a slowdown on getting my license when I turned 17. But I had determination to get it done. So just before I turned 18, I had my private pilots license. Now I could take my friend flying with me. And so we did. A couple of teenagers in an airplane. Wow, thinking back on it and as a mother of four grown kids, I don’t know if I would have let my kids go up in an airplane with other kids. I wouldn’t even let them drive with other teens in the car. But then again, airplanes are safer then cars.

Barnstormer in farmers field.

By the time I graduated high school I had my instrument rating. Then I was off to college. I couldn’t afford college and flying, so I put the flying on hold. I had a plan. Get a degree, get the rest of my ratings and get a good airline job. I had a life plan. Four years of college, a degree in Business Administration, 5 years working for Xerox to pay for training and get my ratings, two wonderful children, five years of flight instructing, three years at the commuters and one failed marriage later, I landed at American Airlines. What a journey. I met the love of my life and married my best friend and inherited two more wonderful children.

Bathtub at EMAM

There still was something missing. I had always vowed to fly a GA airplane across this country. I’ve flown airliners back and forth thousands of times, but to do it low level, slow and in a single engine airplane was one of my life’s bucket lists. Then tragedy struck. I was severely injured in a car accident on the way to work.

Yep, I’m the poster child for flying is safer than driving. I was only ¼ mile from the airport. I was told that due to the nature of the injuries that my flying days were over. For eight years I fought my way back to health, and convinced the FAA that I really could fly airplanes again. Despite the FAA, AMR medical and most of my Doctors telling me that it was impossible, I didn’t listen. 8 years and two days later, I was sitting in the cockpit of a 757 getting my IOE for American Airlines.

I was back!

To Vail

Now, getting back to my goal of flying across the country. The accident experience taught me that we don’t know when our last day will come. So now I’m committed to getting my bucket list done. It’s funny that for every item I check off, two more seem to appear. Oh well, I’m having fun getting the list done. I never want to run out of adventures. Isn’t that’s what life is all about. So right after I got my medical back, I decided to return to the 99s. And there I met the sister I never knew I had, Mary Wunder.

While we are not really blood sisters, we seem to be life sisters. She was leaving for the Air Race Classis shortly after we met. Wow. That sounded fun. What a way to cross off two items on my list at the same time. Go on an air race (powder puff derby) and fly a light plane across the country. Being fresh back a work that first year, I couldn’t take the time off to go, but I promised Mary that in 2013, I would be her race partner. We are looking forward to spending two weeks on a grand journey together. I’ll be bringing my camera.

Barnstormers in the farmers field

In the meantime I have been busy working on the other items on my bucket list. I am now flying international, going places have always wanted to experience. I have been to Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Zurich, Paris, Manchester England, Brussels, Rio de Janeiro, and lots of little Caribbean islands. I have flown into St Martin. This is the one where the airliners come in right over the beach and everybody stands a few feet under our landing gear and watch. They hang on the airport fence when we take off and get blown into the ocean from the jet exhaust. I don’t understand why they do it, but there you have it. I use each trip as a mini vacation and see the sights that each country has to offer. It’s a perfect job for me.

Rocket at EMAM

Additionally, I joined the National Ski Patrol, skiing all winter, and in the summer time I volunteer at the Eagles Mere Air Museum in Eagles Mere PA. There you will find over 30 vintage airplanes. Some are one of a kind. Some are representative of the airplanes that the women of the first Power Puff Derby flew across the country. One of the museum buildings is dedicated to women and their roles in early aviation. Eagles Mere Air Museum is one of our main sponsors for the air race. On Sundays, you will find me flying some of those grand airplanes for the crowds. You can’t believe the reaction I get when I pull off the leather flying helmet and the crowd sees a woman. It’s fantastic.

My office the alps

I can’t wait for the Air Race Classic. The views from the Mooney are going to be fantastic and the journey across the country twice, is going to be fantastic. We are taking the northern route to get out to Seattle and the southern route back home. The race starts in the Seattle area and ends in the Little Rock area. I hope to meet some fantastic women along the way and make tons of new friends.

So why am I doing this? Apart from my bucket list, the grand adventure, meeting wonderful likeminded women, spending two weeks with my best girlfriend, I want to show and encourage women of all ages that flying can be fun, rewarding, and that you really can have it all and do it all.”

Barnstorming Champ

Juliet, thank you for sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration to the world of aviation, and to each person reading this—especially me. At some time or other each of us will all face a set back or two. Life problems will jump in our path. But far too often those situations are used as reasons why we didn’t fulfill our dreams, instead of opportunities to prove to the world we can do anything. You are not only the poster child for why flying is safe than driving, but also for “I can do anything—just watch!” Best of luck with your continued airline success and may the American merger go smoothly!

For everyone else, please share your thoughts with Juliet and your support for her success in the first race. I have so many questions about these wonderful planes. And next week, we will meet the other half of “The Wunder Team!”

Enjoy the journey!

XO Karlene


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this story Karlene and Juliet.

    I saw so much of myself in you when you described those first few flight lessons. Just like myself, you were flying before driving! I'm now 16 years old, able to fly solo, but am not legally allowed to drive solo! It's crazy how things like that work out!

    Reading this has been a highlight moment of my day. Seeing how you recovered against the odds, only to sit in the cockpit of an AA757 is incredible! It totally motivates me, showing how lucky I am to be in the physical health I am. I have my heart set on flying, just like you, and I know there will be roadblocks.

    What your story has shown me is that the barriers I have/could face are nothing in comparison to the injuries you sustained. That humbles me greatly.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, keep checking off that bucket-list!
    Swayne Martin

  2. Hi Swayne,

    Thank you for your kind words. Please keep flying and dreaming. Only if we dream big do big dreams come true. So never stop dreaming or trying. I just walked in the door from a wonderful trip from JFK, NY to Barbados and back in one day. Almost 11 hours of flying. We had a three pilot crew. All of us were women! It was a fantastic flight. I hope to see you in one of my cockpits some day. Keep it going.


    1. Thanks so much! Sounds like an amazing flight. Hope all went well and you had fun!

      I hope our paths will cross someday! Have a great Easter!
      Swayne Martin

  3. Now that's determination, I love it! Best of luck to Juliet in her race.

  4. That is an incredible story of courage and perseverance! Thank you so much for sharing it!!


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