Aviation for Women

JUL-AUG 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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42 AviationforWomen J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8 A Family Affair D E V A N A . N O R R I S W hen she was about 3 years old, one of our nieces was at the Atlanta airport with my parents waiting to board a flight to Florida. While waiting at the gate my mom looked down and was surprised to see the child looking worriedly at a man in a T-shirt with pilot's wings printed on it. My mother asked her granddaughter, "What's the matter pumpkin? Why are you watching that man? " The little girl looked up at my mom and asked, "Why is he dressed like that?" "Maybe he is a pilot," my mother responded. The child was indignant and shook her head vigorously. "No, he's a boy!" Not surprisingly, I love that story and have told it often—especially to my female pilot friends. It makes me proud that my young niece thought all pilots were women. However, it leads me to ques- tion whether certain vocations are more a mat- ter of nature or nurture. Is the way we are raised have a stronger influence on our future career choices than we might think? I am quite sure that if my niece had not known her aunt as a pi- lot, she would not have made that assumption. People who choose to be firefighters, doctors, police officers, and military members have often had a strong role model in their immediate family. Those footsteps they either decided—or felt compelled—to walk in. My own family history is a strong example of this: Not only was my fa- ther an airline pilot, but also my mother was a Pan Am purser, my grandmother a United gate agent, my grandfather a C-47 instructor, and several of my cousins and uncles worked for the same airline I do! I even married a man who is a pilot from a flying family, and my father-in-law is a retired Marine aviator. Although I am a third-generation pilot, there are families whose commitment to aviation tru- ly boggles the mind. I recently had the pleasure of flying with a female captain who was married to a captain from another airline. Remarkably, she also has two grown daughters, both of whom chose to be airline pilots. What is the likelihood that those girls would have both been airline pi- lots without the role models of their parents? It seems if you have aviators in the family you are more likely to see future generation pilots as well. My husband and I live in a fly-in community, and it is clear from the families there when the avi- ation seed is planted (and in some cases it was generations ago), it continues to flower in their children and grandchildren. Although my husband and I do not have chil- dren, we still want to pass aviation on to the next generation. We volunteer at an aviation kids' camp in upstate New York, and offer our friends' children the chance to come fly with us. We also send them information on the EA A Young Ea- gles program. Our oldest niece has been flying with us since she was 5 years old. We are look- ing forward to taking the younger ones up in a few years, but in the meantime our toddler gift- giving has a strong airplane bias. Not every child we take flying will become a professional pilot— after all, how many kids who play an instrument end up joining a symphony? But we do want kids to have the opportunity to learn about aviation while they are young. Pilots have a tendency to share f lying with their friends and family, and many of us take great joy and pride in seeing the spark of passion light up in someone new to flying. When I was a kid my father was often encouraging the young men who mowed our yard to take up flying. One of my dad's favorite mementos was a gift from one of the young men. It is a letter opener en- graved with the letters TFTFS—Thanks for the Flying Start. That "young man" has been a cap- tain at a major airline for many years now. It's appropriate aviators use the common ex- pression for mentorship as "taking someone un- der your wing." It is a metaphor for both family and protection, but also for someone who is en- couraging you to fly. Once the fire for flying has been kindled in someone, even if he or she is not a friend or family member, you begin an unde- niable connection linked with every other flyer through history. By inviting someone to share the joy you feel in the air, you are inviting that person to join in your extended aviation family. As you pass the aviation torch to others, they will in turn pass it on to the generations to come. Although we will all one day "go west," we can leave a legacy for the future in the friends and family that we encourage to fly. ✈ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Devan A. Norris, WAI 13890, is a first officer for a major airline on the Boeing 757/767, and an ap- prentice air show air boss. My husband and I live in a fly-in community, and it is clear from the families there when the aviation seed is planted (and in some cases it was generations ago), it continues to flower in their children and grandchildren. I N T H E P U S H

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