Military Aviator and Aircraft Maintainer

Hi!  My name is Barbara. I live in Connecticut and I have two dogs named
Ollie and Jetts.  I learned to fly when I was in high school.  My dad has his
pilot's license and took me flying when I was young -- that initially sparked
my interest in aviation.  I grew up in Ohio which is a huge aviation
it is difficult not to catch the aviation bug!  My family also took frequent trip
to the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH and I made it my mission to learn the
names of every airplane there!  (Still working on that...)  

One of my flying instructors during high school was a former Navy pilot and
flight surgeon in the Air National Guard and convinced me to look into joining
the military... I joined the Guard in January of 2002 and thus began my “part-
time” military career.  I spent my first 7 years in the military enlisted as an
avionics specialist on C-130s.  A couple of years ago, I was commissioned as
an officer and went through pilot training for C-130Js.  During pilot training,
I had to opportunity to fly the T-6 Texan II (Laughlin AFB, Del Rio TX) and T-
44 King Air (NAS Corpus Christi, TX).  My next goal is to get my float plane
rating...I had to opportunity to fly in Alaska and absolutely loved it!  I have
flown many different types of general aviation planes and but my favorite
flight was in a PT-17 Stearman.  I love old bi-planes with the open cockpit
and my ultimate goal is to one day own a Stearman.  

Flying part time for the Air National Guard means you are flying one time per
week and working one weekend per month while continuing to work at a
fulltime civilian job.  It also includes extra training days and
you have to be very organized and good at balancing your schedule/
prioritizing tasks.  My fulltime job is in the field of applied behavior analysis
(ABA).  I have a certification in Applied Behavior Analysis and I am completing
my Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.  I develop and implement
intervention programs for children with autism and adults with intellectual
and developmental disabilities and provide training on the programs.  It has
been a very rewarding job and I would like to expand into working with
individuals with brain injury and veterans in a rehabilitation setting.  It is
difficult balancing two careers but who says you can’t have more than one
interest or goal??

Why is Girls with Wings so important to me?  During my first year of flying
(when I was in high school), I felt like a loner.  I had only met one woman
who was a pilot and I was really hoping to meet more girls who loved flying
as much as I did.  I joined a professional aviation fraternity through The Ohio
State University (Alpha Eta Rho) and met several young men and women my
age who were either flying or involved in the management side of aviation.  
That was huge for me being around people my own age that had similar
interests.  Between learning how to fly when I was younger and joining the
military later on, aviation definitely provided a confidence boost and taught
me a higher sense of responsibility that I have used in every other aspect of
my life.  

As I mentioned before, I spent 7 years working in aircraft maintenance in the
Guard while going to college and working in a fulltime civilian job.  I decided
to go into maintenance (avionics) because I simply wanted to learn more
about how airplanes worked.  I had no prior experience working on
electronics or as a mechanic and I figured that the Air Force would be the
best place to learn.  So that's what I did!  I definitely felt underqualified when
I first returned home as a newly trained airman; however, I got the
experience that I had been looking for and learned so many new skills.  I
never thought that I would be responsible for fixing multi-million dollar
airplanes but I learned the skills that I needed and did something that was
totally out of my comfort zone.

There were times when I felt like I had to work harder to prove myself
because I was a girl. When you are a girl working in a male-dominated field,
people tend to notice you more because you kind of stand out, whether you
want to or not.  But, I pressed on and eventually became comfortable with
the job and took pride in being the "girly girl" who worked on airplanes.  I
even won a "Top Maintainer" award on a deployment!  I decided that I didn't
need to act like a "tough" guy to fit long as I took my job seriously
and did my best, people liked me for who I was.  Being confident, even when
you don’t feel totally sure of yourself, is winning half the battle.  In the end,
it is fun seeing the look on people's faces when they find out I worked on
airplanes and that I am a pilot!

My advice…If you have an interest (or multiple interests like me), learn as
much as you can about the subject.  Join a club or group, find a mentor and
talk to people who are already involved.  The more information you have
about something, the better prepared you are to make a career decision for
yourself.  Always stand up for yourself and for what is right.  Have the ability
to admit when you make a mistake and learn from it.  

A cute story…One day, I was walking around an aviation museum on a Navy
base with another female pilot (we were in our uniforms) and a mother
brought her 6 year-old daughter over, pointed to us and said, "You see!
Girls can be pilots, too!"  She took our picture with her daughter so that she
had proof!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you just want
to chat!
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
Email Barbara!
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Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless