Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


My First Instructor Was a Girl

June 11, 1973

I know that sounds like a sexist title, and that today being taught by a female CFI wouldn't be particularly worth a logbook story, but back in that day it was just a fact: there weren't that many female pilots, and so having a girl as your first instructor would be notable. A couple of years later, when I was a full-time student at a professional pilot school, all the instructors at the school were men. I point out these facts not to make any opinion points about why this was so, but only to explain why it's worthy of one of my memoirs.

The "first flight" logged above was actually a $5 "demo" flight, using a clip-out coupon printed in an advertisement in the local paper. Buying the student logbook to record it in was extra. Hah. Still, probably, the best flying deal I've ever got. At that point I was done with college, and thought, "what the heck?" All future roads led from that demo flight.

Sally M. was a good pilot and a good instructor. There was a point before soloing that I was struggling and having doubts about proceeding. Sally read me the riot act and as a result of that and some introspection, I realized that I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and to motivate myself to do whatever was necessary to succeed. An instructor tactic that I was to use with some of my own students in later years. Sally took me through my first solo, and then she left the FBO to get married to one of the A&P aircraft mechanics there, and they went off to start up their own FBO in another small town in the same state.

Some years later, on a corporate flight overflying the small town where Sally and her husband had started up their new FBO, I called in on unicom to say "hello" and to give her an update on what had become of her student. (Note: this isn't good operating practice - to communicate on unicom from a Flight Level. Don't do as I did.) Knowing how their students succeeded in aviation is something flight instructors like to know, but seldom find out. See my story elsewhere here about some of my own students who succeeded in aviation.

Finally, if I'm permitted to make at least one vaguely sexist remark: being squished into a Cessna-150 cockpit in close proximity to a pretty girl and a pair of shapely thighs poking out from under a miniskirt pressed up right next to me, and easily visible in my peripheral vision, really forced me to learn how to focus on the primary task at hand.



References for Non-Pilots: