Airline Pilot

My name is Erin and I'm currently a First Officer on a Regional Jet (CRJ-700/
900) for a large regional airline based in Atlanta.  As an airline pilot I have the
luxury of being able to live just about anywhere I want.  In fact, most pilots
don't live in the same city as their domicile (base), so it takes a few hours to
get to work each week.  But since we airline pilots have free travel on just
about any airline in the world, it's a small price to pay to live where I want!  
While Seattle is now home, I've had the pleasure of living in Florida, Virginia,
Georgia and Michigan during my aviation career.

I grew up in the military and my dad would take me to airshows every year.  I
had dreams of flying F-15’s and maybe being a Thunderbird pilot someday.  
My dad helped me build model airplanes and we hung them from my bedroom
ceiling.  But I didn’t start flying until I was out of college, when I met another
woman who had her own airplane.  We became great friends and flew her
Beech Debonair all over the country.  My dad always told me that I had what
it took to become a pilot, and I'm so glad I believed him!

One day I just decided to learn to fly.  I had saved some extra money and
decided to use it getting my Private Pilot Certificate.  My friend Maureen (the
woman with her own plane) helped me a lot, and so did my dad.  Everyone
was really supportive, and has been for my entire aviation career.  I learned a
lot while learning to fly – that I’m more courageous than I realized, that I can
learn a lot of the tough concepts it took to get my instrument rating, that I
have the tenacity to see difficult things through, like my first jet type rating,
and that I have the stamina to get through airline training.

I learned to fly in Maureen’s Beech Debonair, and in a Piper Warrior that
belonged to the flying club I joined. Then I went to Florida for a year of
intensive flight training, where I flew Piper Archers, Arrows and Seminoles.  
After that was over, I got a Citation business jet type rating and flew 2
different models of Citations for a charter/management company in Virginia.  
Although I enjoyed the flying, the lifestyle was tough.  I was on call 24 hours
a day, 7 days a week, and it was hard to have a normal life.  Now I’m flying
for an airline in a CRJ-200 and it's the most fun plane yet!

So flying is how I make a living.  Before that I had considered going to
veterinary school, but decided that I would be better suited to something
different.  Then I worked in a hospital for about 5 years, in the operating
room, and really enjoyed it.  Finally one day I decided to become a pilot.  I
was fortunate – I went from no flight time to a jet pilot in 1 year.  Very fast
– I had lots of great mentors and footsteps in which to follow!  I really prefer
the corporate type of flying, the little jets.  But the airlines afford a better
schedule and more of a life outside of aviation.  Maybe someday I’ll find a nice
private jet on the West Coast to fly for someone who appreciates me!

I love being airborne.  It’s beautiful to take off just before sunrise, and to see
the big orange ball slowly peep its head out.  I have been to all 50 states and
a lot of different countries, many of them thanks to my flying career.  The
magazine “Aviation for Women” has published a few of my articles, and this
year I intend to get more published.  The best part about flying is that I get
paid to do something I love!  Sure, there are sacrifices (like being in a hotel
almost 200 nights last year) but so far the benefits far outweigh the costs.  
For me, flying is a nice blend of the artistic part of life with the challenging
intellectual side.  I get to use much of my brain every day!  I used to think
that flying would be too restricted, that it wouldn’t allow for me to be
creative.  But what I learned is that, although every take off and every
landing have to fall within certain standards, there really is a lot of room for
me to be creative!  No two days at work are the same, ever!

Even in my airline uniform, with my flight bag by my side, I still get confused
as a flight attendant!  It’s a natural reaction for people to see a woman in
uniform in an airplane and assume she’s the flight attendant.  And lots of
people are surprised to learn that I’m indeed one of the pilots!  Amazingly,
there was once a man who told me in shock that he didn’t know that it was
even legal for women to fly! Girls, we need to get out there and educate the
world that women make excellent pilots!

I never thought of myself as being a math/science person.  I studied biology
in order to go to vet school, but in the end i graduated with a degree in
Spanish!  Go to college, study something you love, and have a back up plan.  

Being a professional pilot is a fantastic way to make a living, but this industry
is fickle.  It changes a lot and it’s common for a pilot to find herself out of
work and needing job skills other than flying.
Email Erin!
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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
Erin's Advice for future
pilots: STUDY HARD,
you're interested in
learning more, while
Erin was going
through new-hire
training at her current
airline she chronicled
her training
experiences in the
following website:

Just after my first solo
flight in 2002! (In a
Piper Warrior)
At the Flight Training
Academy in Florida in
2003, the day I got my
Multi-Engine rating.
(that's a Piper Seminole)
Flying the CRJ-200
for an airline.
With Kelly Burris,
airplane owner, in the
2008 Air Race Classic.  
We raced from Montana
to Massachusetts in an
all-women race!
Erin and Kelly were
the winners of the
2009 AirRace Classic.
Read her blog.
Kelly's and Erin flew
American Bonanza
Society's "Beechcraft of
the Month"!