Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fly mom' featured in new book

From the State Journal: Fly mom' featured in new book
The thunder of National Guard helicopters is an everyday part of Frankfort life – so much that it caught Victoria Cain’s fancy at her childhood home on Holly Hill Drive in the 1980s.

That led Cain to an aviation career with the U.S. Army, where she wound up piloting the very thing that captivated her youth.

Now a mother of 6-year-old Kayleigh, Cain’s aviation adventures will be highlighted in “Military Fly Moms” – a book outlining the careers of 71 female pilots who split their duties between the military and motherhood.

Though Cain left the military in 2010, the book, written by retired naval aviator Linda Maloney, will be a reminder of her former life in the sky.

Cain, formerly Victoria Uptegraft, attended Western Hills High School before she moved to Cynthiana at age 16 to live with her father, a Korean War veteran, while her mother trained with the National Guard.

She never thought about the military until 1997 when she graduated from Eastern Kentucky University as a biology major. She enlisted in the student loan repayment program – a four-year commitment.

Though as a child she fell in love with the choppers constantly landing at the Boone Center, she wasn’t sucked into aviation until she was stationed in Bosnia as an Army medic.

“It looked so much more exciting compared to what I was doing,” she said. “They were able to go off base, and it looked like fun.”

After flight school in 2000 she was stationed with the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell where she says the motto was “We own the night.”

They trained “without illumination” – or in complete darkness – with night vision goggles in a UH-60 Black Hawk.

“It was really exhilarating and a bit scary to know that you are in complete blackness,” Cain says. “It was really incredible if you think about it.”

She was deployed to Iraq in 2003 where she flew more than 450 combat hours.

Cain says her mother, Marilyn Gains, was a lifeline for the young family after their daughter was born.

“It was difficult being dual military parents,” Cain said. “She was really key in all that we were able to do because military hours can be extreme at times.”

After Cain stopped flying, she became an Army recruiter before ending her military career in 2005. Her father had heart surgery and her husband, Brandon, was deployed, making it a difficult time for the young family.

“I got to a point where I couldn’t give 100 percent,” she says.

The family now lives in New Brockton, Ala., where she works as a strategic doctrine engineer for Navigator Development Group Inc. writing aviation field manuals. She is also the senior aviation safety analyst at Fort Rucker. She is under contract to improve the safety-reporting process.

She’s made a career of aviation, but she says – surprisingly – that she never flew with another female while at Fort Campbell.

“There were so few female aviators, it was exciting when she approached me about doing to the book,” she said. “It was fun to hear other females’ stories.”

Maloney, the author, finished the 300-page book after seven years with contributions from the female pilots.

“It’ll be great for the kids,” she says. “It’s something I think they’ll be proud of and will be able to keep.”

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