By Lauren Jones, 2017 Women Soar You Soar attendee
Women Soar You Soar helped me realize that aviation is not just a hobby for me — aviation is my passion! I attended Women Soar You Soar during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017, and on the first day I was ecstatic to meet other girls my age who are just as enthralled with aviation as I am. I immediately felt at home with them because of our common interests. When we arrived, each girl received a Women Soar You Soar backpack stuffed with a different Women Soar You Soar shirt for each day, aviation books, and more, as well as a highly coveted wristband for a whole week of attendance at AirVenture. I was amazed by HondaJet and EAA’s generosity.
This great start kept getting better and better as the days went on. I met the Debby Rhin-Harvey, U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, in person because she happened to be running the program! She told many awe-inspiring stories throughout the four days of Women Soar You Soar, such as overcoming the early prejudices toward female pilots. Rochelle Oslick, who was previously a U.S. Air Force flight test engineer, talked to me about her job as an aerospace engineer at Boeing and inspired me so much that I toured Texas A&M’s nationally recognized aerospace engineering program when I returned home. Nancy, a professor from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, had me laughing out loud with her funny aviation stories. Each mentor added her own insight and personal touch to aviation.
Throughout the four days, we were all in our element with aviation aspirations, airplanes surrounding us, and people who inspired us to work hard to make our dreams realities. We were able to do and see seemingly everything at AirVenture, while searching for the right aviation careers for ourselves. Visiting the university booths was particularly helpful for me since I was trying to make a decision about where to go to college.
I was propelled back in time as I rode in the Ford Tri-Motor. I learned how to compose photos from aerial photographer Jessica Ambats, who let me use her personal camera. I sat in the cockpit of a UPS 767. And I rode shot-gun in a seaplane!
Then, when it couldn’t get any better, it did. I won the Morgan Brittany Smith Scholarship through my participation in Women Soar You Soar. This is the largest of four scholarships that are available each year to any girl who applies and attends. I had read about Morgan, who was flying qualities lead engineer during testing of the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, when her life was tragically cut short due to a small plane crash in which she was a passenger, and cried about her untimely death. After I was awarded the scholarship, I spoke with Morgan’s parents, who told me about their remarkable daughter. Morgan was an inspiration to many young women; I am indebted to her and hope to make her parents proud. I will be putting this scholarship money to good use as I major in aviation sciences at Baylor University, with flight training done through Texas State Technical College.
I have been taught from an early age to inspire others to fly. Our airport holds an annual open house during which our pilots give children rides through EAA’s Young Eagles program. We fly about 150 children each year, with all of us at the airport making the event a success since 2004. I look forward to the day when I will be a pilot in the program. During the summer, I volunteer at Houston’s 1940 Air Terminal Museum, where children enthusiastically raise their hands with questions about the artifacts, airplanes, and memorabilia. I find no greater joy than inspiring the next generation of potential pilots. What I have learned through the amazing women at Women Soar You Soar is to inspire others to become aviators. I will forever be grateful for these aviation giants!