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Inspirational stories of success from the first women pilots to fly airline and corporate aircraft.
Retired corporate pilot, Nina Anderson not only tells her story but worked in collaboration with several other women pilots who forged new territory in the 1970s and 1980s by being the first hired by their airline or their corporate flight department. In a time when women were mostly excluded from executive positions, including the front office of a jet, these woman persevered. Their stories give inspiration to anyone who has the qualifications to achieve their career goal but finds the door closed for any number of reasons. In her book, Flying Above the Glass Ceiling she takes us through the accomplishments of women flyers from the 1800s right through present day, noting their specific struggles of entering a man’s occupation and giving insight into what it was that kept them moving toward their dream. Giving us a glimpse of their personal stories, their triumphs and disappointments, we are taught lessons that can apply to anyone persuing their chosen career.
Infomation presented is not limited to women aviators but encompasses many of the occupations that make up the category, aviation – mechanics, dispatchers, flight attendants, aircraft brokers, engineers. Tips from successful aviation related business owners help the reader to get a glimpse of how they can deal with discrimination, relationships, competition and a sexist attitude. This book is an entertaining read, but more than that reveals the determination and passion of these women who all rose to success in the face of many obstacles. Included in the book is a resource chapter that gives the reader outlets for flight training, employment services, pilot supplies, related organizations and support groups.
Ready about! Hard to lee I shouted to my crew as we slam-dunked the Jet 14 around to a starboard tack. We were heading for the final mark in the lead, assuring that my team would end up second in the Middle Atlantic
Intercollegiate Sailing Association for the 1966 season. I was Captain of the Monmouth College (NJ) sailing team and the only female skipper in our league. It was an ego-trip on one hand, but at the same time proved to be a defensive position. The boys didn’t like girls beating them and my coach used this to our advantage. I sailed in warm weather in a two-piece bathing suit (note that bikini’s hadn’t been allowed yet). It seemed that the male competition became totally unglued when they were neck and neck with us (the I can’t let a girl beat me syndrome), giving our boat a definite psychological advantage. It had been easy for me to attain the skipper designation. I started sailing in the ninth grade and my club had no restrictions on who had the helm.
As I became better in competition it never dawned on me that I was a novelty. After all it had been over forty years since women received the right to vote. My mother, who soloed an airplane in the 1930s, was an opera singer and worked professionally. Women were unleashing their sexuality and blacks were being admitted to universities. Why would I think there would be any discrimination against women in any sense? I hadn’t entered the workplace and had no clue that my climb up the business ladder could be thwarted because of my sex.
This naiveté probably helped propel my success. If you believe, and live from that belief, it will manifest. My parents had always instilled positive thinking in their rhetoric and they always encouraged me to do anything I wanted. Although we struggled financially, our parents taught my sisters Kim, Jeanne and me that thoughts were things and to follow your dreams. My father had succeeded in becoming a pilot in the 1920s – a feat in itself, since he was one of a gaggle of children from an immigrant family. Much of his youth had been spent in an orphanage while his parents worked to get enough money for a house.
My dad, Nick Vuyosevich started a flying club in 1920 with a group of 200. The Jersey City Flying Club had nary a pilot among them. Within ten years they had collected enough money to build a hangar on seventy acres next to Newark Bay (New Jersey), which was given to them by mayor Frank Hague. A well-known aviator, Clarence Chamberlain moved his business to Jersey City and the club twisted the arm of the mayor and convinced Mr. Chamberlain to keep the aircraft from his flying school (Swallows with OX5 and Hesso engines) in their hangar in exchange for flying lessons. That’s how my dad began a short aviation career. He always saw the dream, lived the dream even when he didn’t have an airplane or even one flight lesson, and eventually his dream came true.
He went on to log 600 hours of flight time and ended up flying some freight runs to the west coast in a Staggerwing. Once the war began, domestic flying all but ceased and my father, who was employed by a company supplying war goods, was grounded. He never did fly as a pilot again, but our house was always filled with airplane photos and weekly outings seemed to find us at an airport – must be the reason aviation became implanted in my subconscious and triggered my interest later in life.
Back in the sixties I was armed with the belief that I could do anything I wanted. The problem is that like most of my friends, I didn’t have a clue what to do after graduation from college. Tie dyes, the Beatles, love-ins, the war (Vietnam), protests and the shooting of President Kennedy permeated my life. Sailboat racing was my “profession” and I was trying to figure out how to get paid for it sailing. Then I met Neil Shively who turned out to become my first husband.
I needed a photography instructor for my art thesis in my senior year and Monmouth didn’t have one so they suggested I call Fort Monmouth (Army) nearby and see who they had who could teach. It just so happens that Neil was the guy and to boot, he was a part-time pilot flying freight runs out of Red Bank airport (NJ), which is now a shopping center. Now this really impressed a college student who still didn’t know what it was like to be a grown-up and really hadn’t planned on ever being an adult.
Our first date was a flight to Kennedy Airport in an Aztec (twin engine for you non-aviators) flying the mail – and he let me fly the airplane!!! Now this was really cool and put me one level above all the other college kids I knew. Needless to say I was smitten and now whenever an airplane went overhead I craned my neck upwards. It looked liked this was a great job: you didn’t have to wear a desk, went places, people thought you were special because you could fly and you got paid for it! I decide that was for me.
I took most of the money I made from teaching sailing and put it into flying a Cessna 150. One day I found myself on downwind alone in the airplane on my first solo – flying in a dress (I don’t think blue jeans had been invented for girls yet). As most pilots will tell you, the airplane felt empty without a body in the right seat and all the way around the pattern you keep praying.
So I soloed and then married Neil. He was hired by a corporation to fly a Gulfstream I and then laid off. We ended up living on my yacht broker commissions that basically paid for cat food, so my flying ceased. I still believed I would be a professional pilot someday and looking back it was that conviction that patterned my life. For many years I took whatever job I could to pay for my aviation habit – fueler, bathroom mopper, bookkeeper, scheduler, aircraft broker, secretary, weather briefer and even worked behind the candy counter at the old WWII terminal building at White Plains NY. Eventually I got my commercial, Multi and instrument ratings and thought, OK now I can get a job. Wrong! This was the first time discrimination reared its ugly head.