Aviation for Women

MAR-APR 2016

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.

Issue link: https://afwdigital.epubxp.com/i/638688

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Page 22 of 92

20 Aviation forWomen M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 6 covered the hypothermia victim to warm him until they were fnally hoisted by the helicopter the next morning. Jodi was promoted to chief this year, but she had not beneft- ted from Clay's advice about water confdence when she decid- ed to become an AST. She claims she wasn't a ft kid, that she played sports but was a chubby girl—hard to believe looking at her cut biceps and low body fat today. And she was not a strong swimmer. "I was in remedial swim in boot camp," she says. Jodi was a dental technician at the Air Station Borinquen medical clinic in Puerto Rico in 2001 when she decided to make a lifestyle change. "When I got to Puerto Rico, I was at my all-time high weight. I couldn't get into my uniform dress pants." She started working out, improved her ftness, and was in Petaluma, California, for EMT training when she went run- ning with an AST there. He suggested that she try AST "A" School. The ASTs back at home started to notice her in the gym and encouraged her as well. She put her name on the school list but, worried about criticism, told no one except her clinic doctor. That night, she went to the pool on base when no one else was there. She says she made it about halfway across the pool before she reached for the side. "I thought, I'm an idiot! What was I thinking? But when you're supposed to do something, it comes together," she said. She confessed her swimming defciency to her clinic doctor. Coincidentally, another doctor, a former Olympic swimmer for Canada, was temporarily assigned to the clinic. For two weeks he took Jodi to the pool and taught her to swim. Two years later, Jodi succeeded in "A" School. After a couple of years in Los Angeles, Jodi had orders to Kodiak, Alaska, when she found out she was pregnant. She didn't want to burden her fellow ASTs by not carrying her share of the workload, so she continued fying training mis- sions and working hard. When she reported to Kodiak six months pregnant, past the time that she could do any fying, she worried she wouldn't be accepted by the team. It didn't take her long to integrate into the shop and she was back in the helicopter and standing duty within three months after her frst baby. About six months later, she and her husband decided they would have a second child since her shop could operate with her being out of the aircraft again. Jodi thought she would relax this pregnancy, but she didn't. She didn't fly, but she still exercised aggressively. She was back in Petaluma for EMT refresher training, and was work- ing out with her class when they sprinted up what they call Texas Hill. "My competiveness got the best of me," she says. She was between three and four months pregnant and the amniotic sac separated from her uterus wall. When she was discharged from the hospital a couple of days later, she was told she would probably miscarry. Out of a self-admitted over- developed sense of guilt and commitment, Jodi stayed to fn- ish EMT training, but stopped working out. When she returned to Kodiak, her chief sat her behind a desk and she carried to full term. A few years later, when she fnally decided to have a third child, she had learned her les- son. "I was fearful. I still worked hard, I still PT'd, but I did this one right," she said. "I took my time getting back. This was how it was supposed to go." ASTs attend Advanced Helicopter Rescue School (AHRS) in Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Colombia River, to practice challenging cliff rescues and swim in heavy surf. "The hard part is getting back to standing duty. I have gone to AHRS every time to get my confdence back," Jodi said. Since Kodiak, Jodi completed tours in San Diego, California; Traverse City, Michigan; and is now stationed in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Coast Guard ASTs are driven by their life-saving mission. Their physical and mental conditioning prepares them to brave the most challenging conditions and alter the outcome of Mother Nature's effects. As Clay says, it's not about wheth- er they're male or female, "I just want someone who I'm not going to worry about when they get called out at night." Each of these women has proven herself alongside her male peers through rigorous training, and obstacles at work and at home. They do so out of selfess service, so theirs can be the hands that reach out in the dark to save someone who might otherwise perish. ✈ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cmdr. Liz Booker, WAI 17175, is a U.S. Coast Guard pilot cur- rently assigned to Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West, Florida. The views expressed herein are those of the au- thor and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Commandant or of the U. S. Coast Guard. Coast Guard Centennial Coast Guard aviation is celebrating its 100th year in 2016, and proudly telling its story during a yearlong commemo- ration of a century of rich aviation history. Countless lives have been saved since 3rd Lt. Elmer Stone frst reported to fight training on April 1, 1916. Op- erations range from traditional search and rescue cases to hurricane and disaster response. Additionally, Coast Guard aviators have ser ved in all major conflicts, secured bor- ders, aided the maritime transportation system, combated smuggling on the high seas, enforced U.S. and international law, safeguarded the nation's fshing stocks, and protected the maritime environment from pollution. To learn more about how the Coast Guard is celebrating this milestone visit http://centennial-cgaviation.org/.

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