Why aviation engineering is my calling
I’m the Lead Flight Test Specialist Engineer here at Volocopter, but my love of aviation goes back to childhood, when my mother would take me flying in a single-engine Cessna. She’d also take me to air museums, to learn about and be inspired by the past. Later, as a teenager, I used to dream of being a helicopter pilot, and so when I graduated high school I got my foot in the (aircraft) door by working as a helicopter flight mechanic for the US Coast Guard. There were only 3% of us women mechanics, as we were told at the time. Sadly, my less than 20/20 eyesight disqualified me from becoming a full-fledged pilot, but I did get to work in the chilly climes of Alaska as the first woman to be assigned to the “Alaska Patrol” helicopter unit in Kodiak. There were some great times and some tough times, and the experience helped shape me into the resilient person I am today.
Frankly, I just love anything to do with aircraft – from flying and testing to fixing, my passion runs the gamut of hands-on engineering tasks. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be happy if my job didn’t still involve at least something related to touching an aircraft.
Other milestones in my career include graduating from university as an engineer, working for three different wind tunnels, a nearly five-year stint at Mitsubishi Aircraft, and an even longer time with Boeing. Although I’ve been in various flight test engineering teams on ten prior certification programs, it was a breath of fresh air when I joined Volocopter. While its innovative aircraft concept took my breath away, I’ve also felt a lot of respect from my peers since day one. This is a company that appreciates all types of talent, and where getting respect is based on good old-fashioned hard work.
Braving the Alaskan wilderness
My U.S. Coast Guard crews welcomed me with great professionalism and a healthy dose of good humor. I’ll never forget my first deployment, where we used our helicopter on a ship in the Bering Sea for six weeks in early winter. Another unforgettable moment was my winter survival training in the Alaskan wilderness. Or the first time I saw a Kodiak bear during a patrol! And the day I earned my gold Flight Mechanic wings was definitely one of the proudest moments of my career to date.