Thursday, November 15, 2012

Women no longer waiting in the wings

From TimesRecordNews:  Women no longer waiting in the wings

VERNON — A weeklong Girls in Flight Training academy was conducted last week at Wilbarger Municipal Airport.
Participants came from all parts of the country and as far away as Alaska, Florida, New Hampshire and California, as well as several states in between.
The academy prepares the women for the written tests, studying for private licenses, and some work toward advance ratings, said student Harriet Smith, of Wichita Falls. Her husband, Joe, is one of the instructors.
Smith said the participants have intense classroom training in the flight ground school and also have the opportunity to take part in flight activities they might not otherwise be able to experience.
An R44 Raven helicopter visited Tuesday, treating participants to rides. On Wednesday, Thad Goff,of Childress, gave students rides in a Steen Sky Bolt plane.
The class visited Altus Air Force Base earlier in the week, where four female pilots escorted the group on tours allowing students to use Air Force flight training simulators.
Mary Latimer is director and co-coordinator, along with her husband, Lawrence, for the academy.
This year marks the second training academy. Latimer spearheaded the program to bring awareness to female pilots and encourage women to pursue aviation.
She got the idea following a visit to the Women Air Force Service Pilots Museum in Sweetwater. After the first academy was such a success, she decided to conduct another one this year.
When she decided to conduct the training last year, Latimer said, she thought it would just be local women who attended.
"This year word spread like wildfire, and we received a lot of national attention in the AOPA magazine and other publications," she said.
About 20 women attended the first academy. This year the number doubled.
Some of the women have zero experience, and others are studying for their certified flight instructor's license.
Rachel Blair,of Denver, earned her private pilot's license Wednesday morning, and at least one more student was expected to earn the license by the end of the week. Two pilots also soloed for the first time.
Latimer has numerous qualifications as a pilot. She first earned a pilot's license in 1973 and also holds an airline transport pilot's license, is a flight instructor with instrument and multi-engine endorsements, ground instructor ratings, aircraft mechanic with inspection authorization, and is a designated pilot examiner.
She said the students seem to enjoy the experience.
"We haven't done anything illegal, but these ladies are having more fun than the law allows," Latimer said.
Participants range in age from 18 to 69 including one mother of five, she said.


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