Aviation for Women

JAN-FEB 2018

Aviation for Women is the flagship member publication of Women in Aviation International. Articles feature women who have made aviation history, professional development ideas, and current-topic articles.

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36 AviationforWomen J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 "I was raised in the space era, and when I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, I said to myself that I wanted to do something like that," Mary Ray, WAI 13545, says. Even though she has not land- ed on the moon herself, she has gotten far in what used to be a very nontraditional role for women. Currently, Mary serves as maintenance programs analyst at Envoy Air (former- ly American Eagle Airlines), her employer for the last 25 years. What does it take to be a maintenance program analyst? Quite simply, she is a highly skilled and experienced aircraft mechanic. The girl who grew up on a 200-acre farm in Jefferson City, Mis- souri, used to stare at the stars. She spent most of her time out- side and always seemed to be looking up. With little light con- tamination at the time, the night sky was crystal clear—and fascinating. "The fact that mankind had changed forever just be- cause we were able to land on the moon," Mary says was excit- ing and gave wings to her own dreams of pursuing a career that would take her places she could never imagine. To become an astronaut, Mary knew she had to pursue a career in aviation, so she started exploring her options while still in high school. She wanted to join the Air Force, but life had other plans for her. Due to her vision at the time, she couldn't pursue a career as a pilot—so she paused that dream and put it aside. Mary started college in something seemingly opposite of what she wanted to become, pursuing a bachelor's degree to become a theater technician. How was this related to aviation, walking on the moon, and all those dreams to reach the stars? She says that there was a correlation. Building a set at the theater, you have to know the schematics/ working drawings for all the set designs, lighting, and sound that are a critical part of the experience of enjoying a play. "You had to know how things worked, so you can make the final product hap- pen. Now I know about avionics, wires, and blueprints, among many other things, to make the planes fly, and for people to enjoy that experience." After 10 years working professionally as a theater technician, Mary decided to get an associate's degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology and her Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate. She was about to launch a new beginning in her career path. The year was 1992 when she started to work as a mechanic for Flagship Airlines, one of the original carriers that merged to be- come what today is known as Envoy. She didn't know what was coming, but she was determined to make it happen. She was one of the first women working as a mechanic in Raleigh /Durham, North Carolina, for Flagship Airlines. A woman who aimed for the stars and now commands the skies B Y M I N N E T T E V E L E Z- C O N T Y Maintenance Matters PHOTOS COURTESY OF ENVOY AIR

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