A woman’s path to a Private Pilot’s License

True or False:  The path to receiving a pilot’s license for most women is consistent, unfaltering and almost always successful.

False, of course! 11% of the student pilot population is women and only 6% of them will receive their PPL. Statistics show that women student pilots are less likely to obtain a pilot’s license than men, a number that needs to change. The good news is that women who do receive their pilot’s license ROCK! 

I’ve read studies over the years and exact reasons why women do not complete their PPL (or even consider it in the first place) are hard to pin down. I’m sure all women pilots will have an opinion about this but here are a few of my thoughts based on personal observations.

– there are many confident, capable women on this planet! Too bad there are so few actively flying, strong role model, female pilots.

– many women are introduced to flying by their fathers, husbands or boyfriends – all good. Lots of these women will successfully obtain their pilot’s license but spend their entire flying careers taking “the back seat” as #2 pilot in the family – not so good.

– women often start flying later in life; their children are grown and they finally have the time & money to pursue their own goals – all good. They may struggle with confidence in learning new skills at an older age – not good. Try, try and try again. I once knew a man that started flight training in his mid 50’s and had well over 100 hours before he soloed.

– some women are afraid to fly and that’s OK. I’ve met just as many men who are afraid to fly too.

– bumpy skies really can be scary and there’s only one way to get over it. Fly more. The more I fly, the more I like bouncing around!

– women don’t expect a leg up when it comes to earning a pilot’s license. They do expect prepared instructors who are non-patronizing, respectful and see them as a student pilot, not  a “woman” student pilot. Pick the right instructor even if you have to go through a few to find that person! Women who have a woman CFI receive their pilot’s license more often than those who have a male CFI.

– flying is an ART – not just equipment and physics. There’s art in learning to fly an airplane much like learning music or dance. Don’t be intimidated by the equipment and the physics which can be learned. The joy of flying is in the art!

So where is all this “women learning to fly” stuff leading? To an exciting program I just learned about via AvWeb called GIFT! I read the article and with a quick link to the GIFT website I found out GIFT (Girls In Flight Training) is the brainchild of Mary Latimer and her husband, Lawrence, and they are 100% about helping women become pilots.

Mother and daughter. Tamara Griffith and Amanda Griffith.

GIFT “provides the opportunity for women in any phase of their flight training to come together to advance and finish their aviation training”. Incredibly, at their academy there is no charge for ground instruction or for flight instructors. There is a charge for use of aircraft and fuel only.

Flying is still a family affair!

They have a small house with one bathroom available at no charge for those who wish to stay there. Once filled they have rooms reserved at nearby motels for a charge. Even some of the food is provided by volunteers.

All passed their writtens!

It appears their flying academy is only available for one week a year …. at this point. But with enough support who’s to say their program couldn’t grow dramatically and help even more women reach their goal of flying?

For more information or to offer assistance of any kind, please check them out at http://www.girlsinflight.org/

AvWeb Article


  • Jean
    Posted at 15:11h, 16 December Reply

    I met Mary larimer at a CFI workshop in Lubbock this past summer. She is very passionate about this program. I hope to participate next year.

  • Anne-Marie LaPointe
    Posted at 12:58h, 02 December Reply

    These ladies are doing just fantastic work! I found out about them a year ago. How I wish I could have made it down to Texas for their lastest session in Nov! Even though the flying and studying would have been done according to FAA knowledge, as opposed to Transport Canada knowledge, something like this would give me the much needed mentoring, shot of confidence and polishing of skills needed to finally pass my PPL. AND probably provide some much nicer and more dependable flying weather than Ontario in Nov/Dec! 🙂
    Still slugging away at my PPL as finances, weather and work obligations allow….

Post A Comment