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 77 of 92

M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 6 Aviation forWomen 75 "I kept very thorough logs of my time. I'd look at a part and set a goal of how long I thought it'd take me and write that down to see how close I would come. I even wrote down the time I spent cleaning the shop!" T he last words that Lisa Turner's mother said to her had a tremendous impact on her life. Her mother said, "I love you! Don't for- get your sense of humor, and please concentrate in school—for me." Describing herself as somewhat of a delinquent at the time—"I'd start walk- ing to school but get distracted and go do something else"—Lisa, WAI 11178, who was 12 when her mother passed away, redirected her life to make educa- tion a priority, and she's never stopped learning since. With bachelor's, mas- ter's, and doctorate degrees earned over the course of many years, along with an associate's degree in engineering later in life, Lisa has achieved lots of goals in the academic world. But it's been in her hobby life where she's found her real passion, and love! With her sister and brother much older than she and essen- tially out of the house when she was young, Lisa said she ba- sically grew up as an only child. Her father had left the family when she was about 7, so it was just Lisa and her mom, who put few restraints on Lisa's creativity or activities. "I grew up in a neighborhood of boys, and I didn't know I was supposed to act like a girl, and my mother didn't put those infuences on me," Lisa said. "I read Tom Hardy and Tom Swift books and dreamed of building a rocket ship in my backyard. My mom always encouraged me to be or do whatever I wanted." It wasn't until she was in high school that people started trying to redirect her interests. "In high school, I wanted to take shop class, but the counselor told me, 'You're supposed to take home ec and make dresses.' So I told him, 'Well, I'll take home ec and make dresses if you'll also let me take shop.' My counselor was kind of baffed and asked why I wanted to take shop," Lisa explained. "I told him 'Because I enjoy doing that kind of stuff.'" Eventually the school agreed and let her take both. "I got to take a Briggs & Stratton en- gine apart, and I loved it," she said. "The boys were fascinat- ed to have a girl in shop class, and that experience told me it was okay to do what I wanted." In college, Lisa studied English and philosophy, planning to become a high school English teacher. When she graduated, the teacher pay was low and it just didn't feel like the right job for her. Instead, she moved from Maryland to Florida where her sister lived and opened a bicycle shop after apprenticing for a while. At the time her sister was dating a man who was a pilot. After observing Lisa's interests, he asked her if she'd like to try fying. She did and loved it, and he paid for her fy- ing lessons through solo. She soloed in a Piper PA-28 on Feb- ruary 1, 1975—a day that changed her life. "I loved fying, but I also loved the mechanics and physics of the aircraft." T E A C H I N G A N D E X P L O R I N G Lisa continued to run the bike shop, holding classes to show others how to fix their bikes. She remembers being very frightened about the first class she offered. "I put an ad in the paper and four women and one guy showed up," she said. "At that time I was shy and introverted and wasn't comfort- able talking with people I didn't know, but after the frst 15 minutes I got so excited talking about mechanics and show- ing them how they could tune up their bikes, things were go- ing fne." After a while, people started asking Lisa if she could fx their motorcycles and foreign cars. So she started doing that work as well, but wasn't comfortable not having any certif- cation. "I really believe that you should have credentials to do any work for paying customers," she said. She attended a local technical school for automotive training and earned a certifcate from the National Institute for Automotive Ser- vice Excellence (now known as the ASE). "On the day of the exam, I was the only woman in an auditorium with 55 men," Lisa said. The bicycle shop, however, wasn't providing Lisa with enough income to support herself fully. Realizing that she re- ally loved mechanical things, she decided to pursue an asso- ciate's degree in electrical engineering. "If I could have been exposed to engineering while I was in high school, I'm sure my career path would have been different," she said. With her new engineering degree, she landed a job as a power sup- by Mary Jones

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