Leaf Air FAA Certificated Flight Instructor Melodie Viele loves to hear enthusiasm when teaching girls and women about aviation.
“I’m super excited,” said one student as she boarded a Cessna at the Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport.
The Leaf Air school emphasized girl power for Women’s Aviation Week on Sunday. All day, instructors showed aspiring female pilots the ropes and even took first-time flyers for a spin.
Jim Barrett, the company’s owner and an instructor, says when women are given more aviation opportunities, they soar.
“The women that are interested in it do real well, because they put their heart and soul into it,” said Barrett.
Molly Crotty, 26, started taking courses with Leaf Air in July. She says she dreamed about flying ever since she was a kid, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic hit that she had time to try it.
“Only a certain amount of people that know how to do this … It’s such a surreal feeling,” said Crotty.
She got her private pilot’s license in January, bringing her closer to her goal of becoming a commercial pilot like her father.
“To come home and be like dad, I just did a stall … is really amazing!” said Crotty.
That’s good news and good timing. Viele says women’s careers in the commercial airline industry are at an all-time low.
“A lot of the airlines are saying ‘we need women to join aviation,’ because there is a pilot shortage,” said Viele.
Leaf Air hopes to make the program a quarterly event to introduce the love of aviation to more women and girls.