This is Rachel's essay from her application. As an awardee of this scholarship, she has agreed to send us updates on her flight training, which will be posted here when they are received.
At fifteen, I joined an aviation summer camp for kids, and of course, I was the only girl. The instructor sat back and said, “You can take off now.” I was terrified. I had never even been in a small airplane, let alone flown it! After that first takeoff, feeling the rush of power involved, controlling the plane in the air, I was hooked. We landed and I said, “Mom and Dad, I’m going to school to be a pilot.”
And now I am. I am a pilot. Really and truly. I feel it with all of my heart. I earned my Certified Flight Instructors license this summer and have been teaching at school since. Girls with Wings is an amazing organization encouraging girls to take flight. At Purdue University, I am one out of five girls, in a class of 160. It saddens me that women of my generation are still not seeing the absolute joy of flying. If sharing my experiences and passion for aviation can help one girl believe in herself and take the chance, then I will be overjoyed. I know this is what I’m supposed to do with my life, why not help other brave women find their passion too?
At Purdue, I am involved with the Women’s Air Race Classic. I noticed that a few GWW members are participating this year and I am so excited for them. I was the co-pilot last year for Purdue’s Race Team and this year I am the Captain. The Air Race was one of the best experiences of my life. Meeting all of those wonderful women role models was the highlight of my experience. The race course itself was amazing, but the connections and friendships I made are the real reasons I can’t wait to go back.
I have an internship with Boeing this summer in North Charleston, South Carolina. I am beyond excited because I get to see another facet of aviation. There is nothing better than being able to talk about airplanes with people who understand the feeling of flight. While I am there, I hope to get my CFII at CRAFT Flight School. They are located right next to the Boeing plant, which is absolutely perfect. I can work on my CFII on the weekends, or after work.
Going to school at Purdue is extremely expensive. I pay $40,000 a year for out-of-state tuition, plus flight fees, which range from $20,000 a year to $5,000 a year, and housing. All in all, I’m in a lot of debt and don’t have enough money for extra licenses/ratings. I know, however, that having a CFII rating will help me shine against other applicants for CFI positions and airline jobs. It shows I’m willing to go the extra mile. With the new 1500-hour rule to get a job as a first officer, I know I’m going to need a lot more hours. If having a CFII helps me get a job as a flight instructor after school, then it is well worth it.
I have already completed the FAA Written portion of the rating, I teach students working on their Instrument Rating in the Cirrus SR20 AATDs at school, and I am taking a simulator course in our Phenom 100 Level D simulator. I am very used to instrument flying and believe I could pass a check ride with a short amount of training; I just need a little help getting there.
Being the only woman in most of my classes freshman year was a little intimidating. But not anymore. I am confident in my abilities and ready to take on the world. With GWW help, I can become an even better pilot and a better instructor for all of my students. I know I can be a good role model, because I have so many women to look up to. I would love to be that person for another girl, trying to find her place in the sky, too.
The Girls With Wings 2014 Scholarship Program includes the Advanced Training Scholarship, to help defray the cost of flight training lessons in pursuit of an Advanced Rating or Certificate such as instrument rating, commercial pilot certificate, flight instructor certificate, instrument flight instructor certificate, multi-engine rating or multi-engine flight instructor certificate. This new scholarship award is in the amount of $1000, funded by the generous donations from supporters of Girls With Wings, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.