Encouraging Women Who Dare to Soar
When it comes to the world of aviation, it’s not easy to find many women involved. In fact, according to Natalie Kelley, founder of flyGIRL, female pilots make up only 6 percent of the total pilot population. But for Kelley, seeing women soar isn’t something new – it’s her lifelong dream.
Kelley hails from a small town in Tennessee, where her dad, a pilot, was almost like a small-town celebrity. He served in the Navy for 20 years before flying commercially for another 20 years. But Kelley’s interest in aviation truly peaked when she was able to fly with her uncle, a private pilot who practices aerobatics. In fact, Kelley still has her bucket list from that time, with earning her pilot’s license as a key goal. However, her limited time while raising a family never gave her the chance.
But recently, Kelley was given the opportunity to pursue her dreams. “A couple of years ago, it just hit me – why am I not doing this flying thing?” says Kelley. “I’ve been wanting to do this my whole life. What am I waiting for?” Since then, Kelley has earned her pilot’s license and has bought her own plane, flying all across the country.
As much as Kelley loves to fly, she doesn’t want things to end there. “It’s very intimidating, going into training with all these young guys, seeing only maybe one or two other women,” says Kelley. “I know there are women who would pursue aviation if they had a little encouragement. Women like to have fun and adventure too! So I created this scholarship at Sporty’s, a $5,000 scholarship.”
Kelley’s scholarship, through Sporty’s Academy in Batavia, Ohio, was created to lessen the financial burden for young women who may want to explore the field of aviation. “I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t do it because they’re a woman or because they don’t have the money. I’m very passionate about this. So I’ve created a website and a logo with some products that go directly to funding the scholarship,” says Kelley. “You have to be passionate about what you’re doing. And this is what I’m here to do.”
For more information about flyGIRL or applying for the flyGIRL scholarship, visit www.sportysacademy.com/flygirl/ or www.flygirlllc.com.