AOPA Flight Training Excellence Awards Honor Roll press release
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: MARY LATIMER, 817-946-7512 firstname.lastname@example.org VERNON, TEXAS, September 24, 2013 – GIFT Academy Inc. (Girls In Flight Training) has been recognized for its high standard of accomplishment in flight training by The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). The flight school has been awarded a spot on the Flight Training Excellence Awards Honor Roll, a title given to high scoring flight schools from AOPA’s flight training poll. The Flight Training Excellence awards were created to highlight the best the flight training industry has to offer. “We feel it’s important to recognize flight training providers, like GIFT Academy Inc. (Girls InFlight Training) who create a quality customer experience that supports student pilots and their entry into all aspects of the aviation community” said Shannon Yeager, vice president of AOPA’s Center to Advance the Pilot Community. To select the award winners, AOPA invited those who have taken flight training within the last 24 months to complete the Flight Training Excellence Poll. Each individual could nominate up to one flight school and one flight instructor. The online poll was conducted from April 10 to August 9, 2013, using a process that contains several safeguards designed to ensure fair competition. AOPA’s poll had 3,375 respondents. GIFT Academy Inc. (Girls In Flight Training) is a non-profit corporation with a mission to increase the percentage of women pilots. November 2013 will be the third year for the all-female flight academy. One aspect is to identify and address the reasons women students drop out of training. The second aspect is to provide the classroom and in-flight instruction to individual students to enable them to earn their pilot certificates. The week long academy offers intensive ground school and focused flight training exclusively to women students. There is no charge for instructors during the week of GIFT and the aircraft are deeply discounted. GIFT Academy, Inc. to able to offer discounted aircraft rates to women students throughout the year thanks to the donation of two aircraft.
Great Letter from a Previous GIFT attendee in 2012!
Subject:GIFT Hello Mary! I just wanted to take a moment to get in touch with you and let you know how valuable my experience with GIFT was to me. It's been a long time since our last correspondence so just as a reminder, I'm the young woman who attended last years GIFT program with the aspirations of becoming an air force aviator. I am so very excited to hear about all the interest in this years training. It was an incredible experience and truly priceless to me. I hope that you and all of the Latimer family are well. I miss you all and I hope to be able to get back in touch in person before too long. Thank you so much for all the hard work that you put into this program. I'll never forget it. Since we met, I earned my commission as a Second Lieutenant and am currently stationed in Pensacola, Florida for navigator training. I left for officer training in February, unfortunately, before I was able to get my private pilots license. In order to get to this point though I had to first pass through a screening program. For this, they sent me to Pueblo, Colorado where I was subjected to more aviation information than any one person could possibly absorb in such a short amount of time. During my three weeks in Colorado I added 15 more hours to my log book in a Diamond DA-20. We were expected to quickly pick up on skills like using a whizz wheel, reading METARs, and understanding many of the aerodynamic principles that you taught to us in your ground school at GIFT. Thanks to all of the time you put towards helping us further our aviation careers I was able to successfully survive the screening and in fact, I did quite well. Failing Initial Flight Screening is an air force aviation career ender for navigators. I can't tell you how appreciative I am that I was able to learn so much from you and succeed in that environment. THANK YOU! I am currently in the very beginning of my navigator training which is one year long. If all goes well I'll be pinning on my wings in July of 2014. During this year I'll be training in the Air Force T-6 and T-1. As soon as I finish training and life settles down slightly I'm determined to finally get my license and start adding ratings. I'd like to cross train and switch over to Air Force Pilot by the time I promote to Captain. I know with absolute certainty that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be in life and aviation is meant to be my career. I think I understood that for the first time when I was in Vernon. I really wish that I had the time to attend GIFT this year. I would have been one of the first to sign up if I wasn't training. I will keep my eyes and ears open for news about the program and others like it. As my career as a military aviator progresses I plan to give back as much as I can to the aviation community by volunteering to providing support for programs like yours. You are truly making a difference for women in this field. Thank you again for everything. Best of luck with all of your endeavors. Please never hesitate to contact me for any reason. I look forward to hearing all about the success of GIFT in 2014. Thank you again. Megan Wicks
Total number of participants 45 total students, 33 working toward private, 12 toward recurrency or higher ratings. 8 Flight instructors: Mary, Lawrence, Tamara, Amanda, Joe Smith, Josh, Steven and Kristine Number of first solos 4, Cindy Coleman, Jesse Jenison, Lovie Price and Patti Shannon Number of PPL issued (Rachel and Willow?) Both passed, Number of total hours logged for all the participants More than 100 hours were tracked but that only accounted for about half of the flights. So many flights were in personal aircraft and they didn't track those or they just forgot to write it down. (We will do better tracking next year!) Any other milestones achieved? 5 medicals at no charge by our local AME, 2 successful writtens SO FAR!. Should be several more by next week.Michelle Bigbee was a returnee from last year. Last year at GIFT she earned her PPL and she returned in her C206 from California to work on her instrument.(UPDATE!! - Michelle has earned her Insrument rating) Jean was signed off for solo cross- country but the wind got up and she couldn't go. Amanda flew with her back to El Paso and they had to stop and spend the night in Pecos. High winds, night, and thunderstorms. Seemed like a better idea to spend the night rather than push the weather. Won't know whether they would have made it if they had pushed it but we aren't writing an accident report so we know they made a wise decision. Hope Seibert wanted to come for the whole event but she was already in training and at a crucial point. She passed her instrument in a helicopter on Nov. 6. She joined us afterwards and helped a lot with ground school. I know that she was an inspiration but I think she was amazed with the energy and excitement the group generated. I know she was glad she came because she came for one day and stayed for two!! I met at least 3 extremely happy husbands!! Especially Patti's. "She looks like my Patti but she doesn't sound like my Patti and I like this Patti better". He was so proud of her and so glad that she was now enthused about aviation. I know that couples are happier if they can share the things that are important to each other. It was very heartwarming to see the way Rusty looked at Patti after she had soloed. When I met them on Friday, they seemed like a great couple. When they left, they looked more like newlyweds. Both of them were so happy that they seemed to float rather than walk across the room. I will have more as I get more caught up. Patti has a goal of getting her private before Christmas,(UPDATE - She achieved her PPL shortly after christmas! now on to the instrument with her husband!) Jesse may stay with us and finish her private (UPDATE - Jess achieved her PPL and is now studying the Instrument). Pretty sure some of the others will be coming back to me for check rides over the next few months!! (update again Cindy - who attended in Nov has just passed her PPL!)
What worked and we learned! July 2011
G.I.F.T. By. Mary Latimer The beginning: I read Penny Hamilton’s article and it really bothered me to learn that the percentage of women pilots has not increased significantly in 100 years ( 6% to 6.75%). Networking groups are working to help women pilots get jobs and there are effort to get more women interested but I am convinced that the biggest hurdle is to get them through their training. I decided to offer a short but intense program to try to identify some of the obstacles that affect women more than men and to give those who attend some solid training and tools that will assist them in attaining their goals. I set the dates to cover two weekends and the week in between because I was expecting women within 200 or 300 miles and wanted to give them an opportunity to fit the academy into their schedules. AOPA picked up the story and I was amazed at the number of women who wanted to attend and the time and travel expense they were willing to spend to attend. There is definitely a demand for a flight training program aimed at women. Who came: Eighteen students participated. Ladies came from Washington, California, Michigan, West Virginia, Florida, Tennessee and Texas. Flight instructors were: Lawrence Latimer (my husband), Tamara Griffith (my daughter) and Carol Foy who flew in to help out for a couple of days. Coyote Flight Center from Amarillo also provided us with a plane for one day. Short notice and they were booked but even the one plane for one day was a big help. Dr. Rose Carreon , our local medical examiner, gave a couple of medicals and provided some medical guidance. She also provided much of the food. Results: Two new private pilots: Darla Ratliff and Michelle Bigbee Two first solos: Philomina Presentation and Roshelle Anderson Four written tests passed (no failures!) Lots of encouragement, support and motivation to continue and encourage others. New hope and ambitions for the ladies who were either ready to quit or thought they could never get a license. I expect at least three additional licenses in the next few weeks and more in the next year. My perceptions: The all-female classroom was great. Everyone was relaxed and interested and cooperative. I know this made a huge difference in the atmosphere. No pressure to impress anyone or even to take a test. I usually need at least 8 hours of sleep per night but I was averaging 5 during this academy. My energy levels were being supported by the enthusiasm of the group. I felt so energized and excited the whole time. Someone asked me where I got my energy and I said it was like we each had a candle and when we were all together in the room; we could all enjoy the brightness. Having the women together for so many days created bonds and friendships that would not have formed in a day or two. We will all celebrate when anyone in this group reaches a new milestone. The ladies also have a safety net to call on if they ever get disappointed in their progress; friends who will sympathize for a moment and then tell them to get back to work. Most of the ladies developed a bond with someone they would not have ordinarily gone out of their way to get to know. Different people have different learning (and teaching ) styles. Recognizing this, verbalizing this to the group and telling them to figure out how they learn best was important. Some people are visual, others aural and others need to take notes. Even the ones who know how they learn were better able to work with the others because it was accepted that we were all there to learn and help each other. I realized that I use different analogies when I teach to different people. It is important to start with something familiar and work from there. Some of the things that are taught sound sexist and somewhat offensive. A little history of the origin of certain phrases helped and lightened the atmosphere. Explaining "balls to the wall" means grabbing all the throttle, prop and mixture controls and shoving the "balls" all the way to the way forward "to the wall" when a go around is imperative. I was also surprised by the number of women who came but had never taken a formal flying lesson. I had expected to be teaching classroom aimed at passing the private written but quickly adapted to going back to the very basics. This worked out very well. Even my more experienced students were frequently heard saying: "Why was I never taught that?", "That explains a lot", "Now I understand", etc. I would start teaching a topic but go off on relevant tangents or share some of my experiences. It seemed like I was getting off track but everything we teach is related so the tangents helped connect the topics. My experiences were teaching moments (ice, VFR into IFR, etc.) but also made the lessons so much more memorable. One thing I noticed was that many of the women who attended have had to overcome major losses or have serious family problems in their lives. I am impressed with their perseverance and positive attitudes but developing those strengths will enable them to fulfill their dreams. Men compare themselves to where they were when they started and women compare themselves to their instructors or role models. Therefore, the women are never as confident as the men and feel less capable or are intimidated by male students. Just letting the ladies know this little secret does help with the ego issues. Several of the ladies definitely had weak flight training prior to coming. Hard to pinpoint a specific problem or even to know if this was because they were female or just because they didn’t find good instructors. Finding a good instructor is the key to success but not an easy task. Patience, respect and a desire to see the student succeed are just as important as flying skills but often lacking. This seems to be especially true when dealing with women students. More patience is needed with a student who doesn’t have a background of mechanical things. More respect for different abilities. More support and encouragement or introductions to other women students or pilots could help.
What worked: Having food readily available: Snacks and a group lunch so we didn’t have to leave. Supper was on your own but plenty of leftovers for those who wanted to hang around or were flying later. Focus on the healthier choices. Fruit and granola instead of doughnuts. Having the BBQ grill was great. Just needed an extra person to do the cooking. Informal atmosphere: Crowded room and limited restroom facilities so the ladies were told they could come and go rather than take a break and line up for the restroom. Some were sprawled out on the couch. Easy to move to another area if they felt they knew the material being covered. Flexible teaching. I would start teaching a topic but go off on relevant tangents or share some of my experiences. It seemed like I was getting off track but everything we teach is related so the tangents helped connect the topics. My experiences were teaching moments (ice, VFR into IFR, etc.) but also made the lessons so much more memorable. Variety of Experience: Teaching the very basic concepts refreshed the memories and increased the level of understanding for the more experienced students. Working together to answer the test questions helped both side learn. Different ways of saying things and explaining the material was very beneficial. The desk-top simulators. A chance to learn in a cool comfortable environment without spending a dime. The price: Free is always good but the whole experience was priceless. Low expectations: I didn’t know what I was getting into when I decided to do this. None of us knew what to expect but we were all hoping for the best and willing to work hard Telling them how to study for the written test. Get a question and answer book, a highlighter and a pad of sticky notes. Read the explanation at the beginning of each topic. Read the question and highlight the correct answer. DO NOT READ THE INCORRECT ANSWERS. You can highlight before you start reading but only read the question and correct answers. Then you can try to understand how they got that answer. If you do not understand the material, mark the page with the sticky note and move on. Get someone to help you with the problem areas. You may be able to understand some topics by reading additional material, watching DVDs or other independent study. Once you have gone through the book, you can start taking on line practice tests. Keep notes of your week areas and get some explanations. When you are consistently making 80 or better ( I say 80 or better 3 time in a row) then you can go take the actual test.
What could have been better: A different time of year. The extreme heat was rough on the flying but it also made the classroom sessions better because no one wanted to be out flying in that heat so they were glad to be inside with the air conditioning. More structure on the classroom topics. Time and day for each topic but keep the flexibility. Help the student plan on self-study or simulator if they already know the up-coming topic. More planes and instructors and a more structured flight schedule: We expected two or three more planes but that fell through. Also expected at least one more instructor but she couldn’t get the time off. We certainly could have done better on the scheduling (and will next time!) Better organization for food. I thought I had a plan but it didn’t work out so we made do and I was able to get some major help from Dr. Carreon. Make a plan and a back-up plan and be prepared to improvise. More volunteers: A lot of the ladies want to come back next year to help out and they already know what needed to be done. A bigger classroom. We made it work and that helped create a more cooperative atmosphere.
Thank Yous!!!! Lawrence, without you, it wouldn’t have been possible. You are a wonderful flight instructor and put in so many hours teaching, encouraging and motivating the GIFTs. Tamara Griffith. You gave so much time and energy and worked so hard to make this program a success. Amanda Griffith, my 17 year old granddaughter who is working on her instrument rating. Thank you for being my errand girl and helping out in so many ways. Rose Carreon. Thanks for the food, the advice and the support. We will all celebrate when you pass your written and your check-ride! Scott Latham and Bill Wade from Coyote Flight Center in Amarillo for the use of your Cessna 172. Your support is greatly appreciated and I expect your business to grow and prosper. Wilbarger County Airport. David Nix, airport manager and Randy Worden, assistant manager. Thanks for the gracious hospitality. Randy, thanks for the prompt ordering of supplies. Harriet Smith, Civil Air Patrol. Thanks for your encouragement and for the use of the projector. Paula Morrison. Thanks for all of your help. To all the GIFTs. Each of you is an inspiration and a getting to know you has been an overwhelming honor.