Air Traffic Controller and Instructor Pilot

Hi! My name is Cathy Babis. My path through many aviation careers is not a
straight one. The various skills I picked up along the way prepared each me
in some way for the job I have today. I have two children, 19 and 22, and
two cats that live with me.

My dad had an avionics business which repaired and installed communication
and navigation radios in airplanes.  I think I would have ended up in aviation
anyway, but growing up with the local airport as my Girl Scout cookie route
resulted in more exposure than most kids get.  When I was 8, our family
went to an air show where I saw sky divers for the first time.  I told my dad I
wanted to do that. He went over and talked to them and said I would have
to wait until I was 16.  [The current rules are 18 for your first jump.] I made
him promise I could do it when I turned 16 - it was double my current life -
but I had a goal.  I did sky dive when I was 16 and I bought a pink and blue
tie-dyed round parachute.

When I was 13, a girlfriend invited me to a Civil Air Patrol meeting.  CAP is a
civilian auxiliary of the US Air Force. Cadets and Senior Members wear Air
Force uniforms with CAP insignia. I earned rank by passing tests on aviation
subjects which prepared me to take my private pilot written examination. I
also learned about search and rescue, disaster preparedness, and military
customs and courtesies. After I joined, 3 of my brothers joined too.  My
mom said we stopped fighting when that happened! I earned a scholarship
for 15 hours of flying time to get my solo certificate. I was learning to fly at
the same time I was learning to drive a car with a stick shift.  The next year,
I won a national CAP scholarship to complete my pilot training. Twenty-one
of us from all over the country flew twice a day and once on Sundays for 3
weeks until we had all earned our certificates.

I got a job at the airport scheduling students with airplanes and flight
instructors.  I saw many customers pay their flight training bills with much
less money than they owed.  I asked how that was possible.  They explained
they had served in the military and it was part of the GI Bill for education. I
joined the Army as an Air Traffic Controller. I wanted to be an Army
helicopter pilot, but women were not allowed in that program at that time. I
served in the Army for 6 years and earned many advanced pilot certificates
using the GI Bill while I was still on active duty. When I joined the Army, only
2% of all the people in it were female.  I heard a lot of comments from my
friends and others telling me that I shouldn't join.  It's one of the best
decisions I ever made and I gained several lifelong friends. Both of my
parents supported my decision.  The Vietnam War was in its final years and
there was almost zero chance that I would go there. Today, women in the
Army have very important jobs that take them everywhere the men go.

When I got out of the Army, I got a job as a flight instructor. In 10 months I
flew 1000 hours which was the limit of commercial flying.  I decided to go to
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach Florida to finish my
degree. I had credit from my Army experience and College Level Entrance
Program (CLEP) tests which allowed me to earn my degree in one year of
year-round school. Back to flight instructing at the same school.  I joked,
"See what my degree did for me?" It really did help me in my future.  It's
important to do the things you need to do to improve your chances of being
qualified for the next opportunity that comes along.

In 1981, 15,000 FAA air traffic controllers were fired by President Reagan.  I
was hired in 1982 and moved to Oklahoma City, OK, to attend the FAA  air
traffic control academy for 4 months. For the next 4 years, I worked as a
tower controller at 3 southern California airports. I ended up getting fired...
Okay, it's not something I'm proud of, but it is a fact.

Over the next several years, I got married and we operated an airplane sales
and repair business, I taught accelerated pilot ground schools on weekends,
and for a few years I was a chief flight instructor for two FAA approved flight
schools.  I had two children and later got divorced.  I moved back to my
hometown of Cincinnati, OH, and had a lot of different jobs that were not in
the aviation career field.  To stay connected to aviation, I developed mini
seminars about flying and presented them at local flight schools. I finally got
a job as a full-time weather observer on the midnight shift for two years.  I
used to say that it's one of the only jobs that pays you to look out the
window!

I applied for a job making aviation instrument flying books and charts and I
got the job.  I'm very happy knowing that what I do helps pilots get to their
destinations safely. I am getting current to take passengers flying with me
after about 15 years since my last flying job. I am so happy to be hanging
out at the local airport again! I just agreed to participate with local aviation
professionals who take the message of aviation careers into the schools.

I hope to meet you all at some airport some day!
next
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
TM
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Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
TM