Airplane Pilot, Flight Instructor, Glider Pilot

I am a flight instructor in Michigan with over 2,500 hours.   I became
interested in flying at a young age.  When I was 11, I visited an aviation
museum with my dad and brother.  While we were there, my dad
encouraged me to imagine myself in the shoes of the pilots who had flown
the airplanes.  It seemed like they had such freedom and excitement in
their jobs!  It occurred to me that when I started to work, I would want to
do something like they did.

Despite my initial desire to fly, I never took the dream seriously until I was
in high school and met a friend, Erica, who had already started taking
lessons.  She encouraged me to work toward my dreams and told me
about colleges and scholarships that were available.  Instead of hanging
out at the mall like a lot of girls in high school, we visited airports.  This
was before increased security, and we could go right up to the terminals
and watch planes!

We did silly things at the airports, like eavesdropping on professional pilots
and walking backwards on moving sidewalks.   I remember one time when
we were looking at a cockpit of an airplane that was facing the terminal.  
The pilots, who were doing some paperwork, noticed us and waved.  We
were surprised that they had caught us watching, but pleased that they
had waved to us!  It made our day.

After high school, I decided to attend Western Michigan University and
major in Aviation Flight Science.  The only problem was that I did not have
a lot of money.   Fortunately, I was able to win some excellent
scholarships, including one specially meant for women in aviation.   

My big break came during my senior year when I got accepted into the
Delta Air Lines Undergraduate Scholarship Program at WMU.  This was a
fast-paced program sponsored by Delta Air Lines, meant to promote
women and minorities in aviation.  For 15 months, I attended accelerated
classes with 6 other women and 2 men.  By the time we were ready to
graduate, we had received commercial licenses and training in a full-motion
Boeing 737 (jet) simulator.  It was wonderful to have the support of so
many talented women in the program!  Several of my classmates went
directly into jobs with regional airlines at Delta Connection.  

Earning my licenses has been one of the most character-building
experiences of my life.  Originally, I hoped to find a “magic” program that
would painlessly turn me into a pilot.  I have discovered that no magic
program exists.  The process takes blood, sweat, tears, energy, and a lot
of patience!  It is like climbing a mountain – you have to take it one step at
a time, and eventually you will reach higher altitudes.   

When I look at my friends who have remained in aviation over the years, it
seems that the most important thing they have in common is persistence.  
It is neither the smartest nor the most gifted that succeed; it is the ones
that are too stubborn to give up.

I love my job as a flight instructor.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  
There is never an end to adventures!  In 2006, I flew from Michigan to
California all by myself in a Cessna 172.  In 2007, one of my students won
a new airplane from Sporty’s, a popular pilot store.  

My advice to young women in training is to get support from other women
and to get a good instructor.  If your learning style does not match your
instructor’s teaching style, switch instructors.  You deserve to be treated

Theresa's Flight
December 2006
Marshall, MI
Fresno, CA
Click on the above link
to see a pdf slideshow
of Theresa's Cross
Country flight!
Email Theresa!
Your name:
Your email address:
Your phone number:
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
An email to Theresa -
Just wanted to thank you
for your profile on the "role
models" section of Girls
with Wings.

I read it about a month
ago.  It was a weird time
for me.  I'm a student pilot,
and at the time was
probably 40 hours into
lessons and still hadn't
soloed and was really
frustrated.  I was having
another one of those
weeks when I felt like
canceling all my future
lessons and telling all my
friends I was quitting... not
the first time that's
happened.  I was also
really worried that if
landings didn't come
naturally to me, I'd never
be a good safe pilot,
because I'm just not cut
out for this.

Then I read your bio about
how being stubborn and
relentless and not giving up
is REALLY what makes a
good pilot.  Everyone had
been telling me for months
that I was close to soloing
so I didn't believe them
anymore, it was no longer
a comforting thing to hear.
cont. other side
What was comforting was
seeing someone else
admit that this takes
blood, sweat, and tears.  
It's hard, and it's
supposed to feel like it's
hard, and that's not a sign
to quit.

As luck would have it I
actually was close to
soloing, I think it was like
a week later that I took
my flight school's pre-solo
check again, passed,
soloed.  And I've kept
flying like crazy, suddenly
everything is happening
really fast, I really feel like
I'm going to be a pilot.

Just wanted to let you
know that your message
stood out.  It's unique and
helped me feel a lot better
so thank you.
cont. from other side