Congratulations to our Women in Aviation 2021 Opportunity Elevated Scholarship recipient, Emily Hazard! Emily graduated from Middle Georgia State University (MGSU) in May 2020 with a B.S. in Aviation Science and Management. Following graduation, Emily earned her CFI in September and her CFI-I in November of 2020. After struggling to find an instructing role, Emily landed a position with The Flight School of Athens in Athens, Georgia. While she is still building her student base for flight instruction, she is loving it, sharing, “I was so nervous going in and had almost an imposter syndrome. Like, who am I to be teaching someone to land an airplane? But so far, I have loved every minute spent flying with a student and have surprised myself how much I do know.”
When asked what she hopes to accomplish with the elevated support from this scholarship, Emily shares, “I’m hoping to use this amazing scholarship to start working towards my multi-engine rating. I think that a multi-rating will help propel me further and strengthen my career. After multi, I have plans to start working on my A&P, ATP, and Seaplane ratings.”
Get to know Emily as she reflects on her aviation journey, looks forward to what opportunities lie ahead and shares the best advice she’s been given as she hopes to provide inspiration to the next generation of female aviators.
What was your first memory of flight?
I grew up listening to my grandaddy’s stories about flying around the Great Smokey Mountains. He definitely piqued my interest in aviation and was the first person I would call with any aviation-related news like passing an exam or check ride. My mom has also been a huge inspiration during my journey. She always told me that I could do whatever I wanted to do and be whoever I wanted to be. No dream was too big, and she has always supported me every step of the way. When I was around 16 years old, she took me to an EAA Young Eagles meeting in Lawrenceville, GA where I was able to take my first flight at the controls of a 1947 Aeronca Chief. That flight solidified my love of aviation, and I knew instantly that I wanted to keep flying.
Do you remember when you decided flying is what you wanted to make a career out of?
I always wanted to fly for a hobby, but iIt wasn’t until high school that I realized that I could fly for a living. I never saw female pilots, and it honestly never even crossed my mind until I was ready to apply to college. It’s so important to have that representation at a young age. I have been to a few elementary schools with my Women in Aviation chapter to talk to young kids about their options for the future and so many girls didn’t know that women were “allowed” to be pilots.
What has been the hardest part of your flight training/career? What is the most rewarding part of it all?
I have faced a great deal of obstacles on my journey to becoming a pilot. It has taken nearly a decade to get where I am today, and I know I still have ways to go. I have had to stop my flight training, start over, stop again, start over again several times due to financial and personal reasons. I have been determined throughout it all and never gave up. Every time I am soaring through the air, I know that it has all been worth it. All of the blood, sweat, tears (lots of tears), loans, double shifts working, late-night studying— it has all been worth it. It’s very rewarding to look back and see how far I have come and see my progress, no matter how slow, towards my goals.
Numbers alone tell us that aviation is a male-dominated industry. How do you feel that has affected your career/training? Has it been difficult pursuing a profession in a male-dominated field?
As the only female in the workplace, there are so many eyes on you waiting for you to fail, so you really have to work hard and be at the top of your game. I get a sense of pride every time I hear a female key in on the radio because I know the struggle she has most likely been through to get where she is. We have every right to be here.
Have you flown with an all-female crew? What was that like?
My first formal flight instructor was a female. Maybe the school paired us for that reason, but I truly looked up to her and respected her. She was only my instructor for a short time, but I will never forget her guidance and inspiration. I had another female instructor during private who quickly became one of my favorite instructors of all time. I thought she was so cool because she had her A&P and could really explain all of the systems to me. She is the reason I was inspired to get my A&P. I also had another female instructor during my Commercial training who I also enjoyed flying with. She is the reason I always nailed my power-off 180s. To Andrea, Jenny and Amanda, if you’re reading this, thank you and I look forward to maybe flying together again in the future!
What is the best piece of advice given to you? Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to the next generation of female pilots?
The best advice I have been given throughout my journey is not to compare myself to others. Everyone has a pretty similar destination, to be a professional pilot and fly aircraft, but everyone has vastly different paths to get there with different obstacles in their way. I would waste hours thinking, “woe is me.” I would look at an 18-year-old flight instructor who got their ratings done in two years, and instead of being happy for them and their accomplishments, I would compare myself to them— but their path is just different from mine.
What organizations are you in or where do you go for women– to– women motivation?
I have been a member of Women in Aviation for several years and even had the honor of serving as president of the Heart of Georgia chapter at MGSU. I was able to make lifelong friendships and connections with really incredible female pilots and aviation industry leaders around the world. I had the opportunity to attend the WAI Conference last year, and it was a truly unforgettable experience. I am also a member of NGPA and the women’s group is full of awesome people who I am honored to have the opportunity to know. Facebook has been a great resource for me as well. There are a ton of female aviation groups where I have met and spoken with so many amazing women. I love to read about everyone’s journey and how it led them to where they are today.
What do you think a unique strength/capability that you bring to the job?
I’d say that I am well-rounded. I have worked in many aspects of aviation and seen things from different points of view. I worked at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as a customer service representative. I worked at MGSU as a Flight Dispatcher and Ground Crew Personnel for three years. I have spent thousands of hours volunteering at the Warner Robins Museum of Aviation doing maintenance and restoration on vintage aircraft. I earned a degree in Aviation Management. I have been a flight student as well as a flight instructor.
What are your career goals? Where do you hope to be 5,10 years from now?
In five years, I hope to have earned my multi– engine rating, seaplane, ATP, and A&P and be a Gold Seal CFI. I hope to be working as a pilot, whether that is for the military, for an air-ambulance service or for an incredible airline, such as Republic. The future is unknown to any of us, and as I’ve learned, our paths can take us in many different directions. I am open for change and up for an adventure and excited to see where my path leads.