Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pilot aims to get more women in the air

Frederick News Post: Pilot aims to get more women in the air
By Ike Wilson
News-Post Staff

Pilot Lin Caywood's plane is nicknamed “Freakin’ Awesome” in reference to the letters FA in its call sign. Caywood participated in Women Fly it Forward on Saturday at Frederick Municipal Airport, an event that offered free flights to women of all ages.

Though women are flying airplanes in any number of situations, including the military, aviation is still seen as a man's profession, Lin Caywood said.
Caywood, of Frederick, is aiming to change that perception. She is working toward a commercial pilot license.

"My eventual goal is to become a certified flight instructor and to be able to teach," Caywood said.

Worldwide, only 6 percent of all pilots are women, and 14 percent are certified in the U.S., Caywood said.

Caywood has always been interested in flying, but a float-plane ride she took in 2000 that landed on water influenced her toward her own pilot's license.

"I thought it was the neatest thing," she said.

Caywood began a companion flying course, learning to talk on radio, read air charts and understand the instrument panel. After eight hours of ground school taught by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Caywood's teacher recommended flying with an instructor.

"You should be flying the plane, not sitting on the right side," the teacher told her.

She flew solo in 2003, got a private certificate in 2004, an instrument rating in 2005 and a sea plane license in 2010. In November, Caywood said she came full circle with her sea plane rating from the time she experienced her first water landing.

Caywood is a member of the Sugarloaf chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an organization formed in 1929 to support and advance aviation, originally composed of 99 female pilots. In June, she raced for the first time in the 34th annual Air Race Classic that ended in Frederick, which the Ninety-Nines helped organize.

Caywood and co-pilot Carolyn Van Newkirk took 13th place out of the 47 teams that were scored in the 2,400-mile race.

Cayward said there is still a long way to go to achieve the same level of involvement and equality of women in aviation as men. But the trend is moving upward, she said.

Plans are already under way for the 2011 air race and Caywood and her partner, Susan Beall, will compete, she said.

"I'm very excited about it," Caywood said.

Caywood said she tries to fly every weekend, depending on the weather, and she noted that having a fianc?e who is a pilot and a mechanic helps a lot.

"I've learned a lot from him. He made me understand the mechanics of the airplane," she said.

Aviation can be expensive, but there are ways to minimize costs, such as building your own plane, buying an older model or investing in a portion of a plane with someone else, Caywood said.

"The great things about the aviation world are the pilots. I think they are the most friendly group of people who always want to share their love of aviation and the air, and show off their plane," she said.

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