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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, February 21, 2014

Emily Van Vleet-Singer

Fridays Fabulous Flyer

Emily Van Vleet-Singer
And her Dad

Last year I was fortunate to meet Emily at the Women in Aviation conference. We had emailed and talked about her career and the airlines...etc. Then last week I missed her call as I was on a plane to Austin, but she sent me the most wonderful text, followed up by an email with the greatest news!!!

Emily won the Delta Airlines type-rating scholarship! I am so excited for her. She was gracious enough to take the time in her busy schedule to share with us, her life and how she became a pilot, and her philosophy on success. If you want something... see what other people are doing to achieve success, and emulate them.

Oh... and the photos were taken over the previous two years with her childhood heroes: Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan and of course the first photo, and greatest hero, is Emily flying with her father last month. 
"These men were the reason I was inspired to fly, I wanted to be an astronauts growing up 
(still do actually!!)" Emily

  Emily's Recipe for Success: 
Perseverance and an equally determined support system

"I'm a strong believer that success is truly a group effort and milestones are accomplished through a support system, or team. There have been so many people in my life who continue to encourage and support me and my endeavors, and I certainly wouldn't be where i am today without all of them. In particular my family.

Starting with perseverance; of course we all want to do well for our selves. We set goals in life and strive to do the best we can for many reasons. Being able to take care of ourselves. Being financially stable. Having a position at a successful airline so we can support our families is also an important reason to stay driven. But making my family and those who support me proud, being able to see the smile and watery eyes on my father's face when I achieve something I've worked so hard for is a huge reason I remain motivated and driven to reach my goals. It took me a while to understand this, but my success brings happiness and joy to everyone in my life, not just myself.
Neil Armstrong and Emily

My support system is comprised of my family, friends, coworkers, people I volunteer with, teachers, flight instructors, Chief Pilots, mentors, even Captains I fly with. I've had the same dream of working for one particular airline since I was in high school. It started with my father constantly encouraging me to write my 1, 5 and 10 year goals down on a piece of paper, and how I would achieve these goals, and to revisit that list every few months to make sure I was still on the right track. I'm not sure I would have developed the same determined personality if it wasn't for my parent's enthusiasm for me to succeed in whatever I set my mind to. I'm thankful they were able to instill this particular trait in me by leading from example.

I made up my mind early in life what my goals are. As a Freshman in high school found a volunteer organization where I could receive free flight instruction, a free use of an aircraft, and could learn to fly for the cost of fuel. The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) allowed me to begin flying when I was 14. I just wasn't interested in sitting around and waiting, and there was no flight school where I grew up (the closet one being a two hour drive away) so this opportunity seemed too good to be true. I received my private certificate when I turned 17, as a junior in high school. What I didn't realize at the time, was spending time volunteering with the CAP allowed me to meet someone who jump started my career years later when I was ready to head to the airlines. Volunteering and giving back actually gave me one of the greatest opportunities in my career.

Emily and Jim Lovell

I learned about other volunteer organizations such as Women in Aviation through a classmate during college. She invited me to come to a meeting and I immediately immersed myself in a handful of different volunteer organizations. I then found out about the different scholarship programs WAI and the 99s offered and began applying for as many as I was allowed to. 
I was awarded a Ninety-Nines scholarship that allowed me to finance my instrument and tailwheel training, and another one the following year that paid for my sea plane rating. I became a volunteer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary as well and was able to get flight time with experienced pilots who would give me informal instruction during volunteer missions. Because I surrounded myself with aviators, I was able to increased my flight time quickly and began applying for WAI airline scholarships and type ratings.
Emily and Gene Cernan
I'm now flying for a regional airline with 6 1/2 years of seniority, I finished my bachelors degree as fast as I could because all I wanted to do was fly. I received a student loan which allowed me to complete my flight training, I flight instructed, was hired by a regional carrier, went through a 2 year furlough, back to flight instructing, then charter, and back again to the airline.

Five years of working on the same one particular scholarship application for that one airline I've always seen myself flying for, and I received the phone call. They chose me this year. The difference with my application this year, was the amount of support I had. I had people I'd never even met spending hours out of their day critiquing and encouraging me to keep working to improve my application. I also had the support and recommendation of my Chief Pilot who I had gained the respect of after years of working under. All of this support combined with perseverance lead to a successful application.

The moment I received the call telling me I was chosen for this years scholarship, two things came to mind. The first one, I have so many people to call and thank for their amazing support and help! And the second was, I can't wait to put some energy into giving back and supporting others and figure out how I can help people, because truly I feel like the most blessed person on this planet. "


If anyone has any questions for Emily, please do so. And join me in wishing Emily a long, and wonderful career!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. Wow- that is a heck of a story!! Congratulations Emily!!!!

  2. What about her other hero?

    Karlene Petitt? I think I saw your picture with her. Do not underestimate the influence that you have on people.

    Sorry, I am tired and cranky. Ha ha, The joys of working all night then commuting home from coast to coast. Make sure that Emily knows it isn't all sunny days, fair winds, easy trips home and big pay checks.

    Wow, I am tired and cranky. Unfortunately, the Captain on the next jump seat knows me. Maybe he will still let me hitch a ride. Ha ha!

    1. Oh... she is my hero! Tired and grumpy flying all night??? Noooo. lol. We're all there at one time or another!

  3. Congrads Emily! It seems like it was just Yesterday we were sitting in North Las Vegas studying for our MEI's. Look at all that you've accomplished, i'm so proud of you and it's an honor to call you one of my Dearest Friends.

    -Paul V.

    1. Paul, this is so very nice!!! Thank you for a wonderful comment. Time flies and when our friends do and they succeed... it makes us smile. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Congrats to Emily on winning the type-rating scholarship! With her wonderful attitude and approach to things I have no doubt she'll go far with it.

    1. Thank you Heather! This is a huge deal and so very happy for her.


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