Aug 2014 FLYING: It’s a Man’s World
It’s no secret that I love to fly. Whether I’m airborne solo or with passenger in-trail, I’m bound to be having a good time! I’ve logged hundreds of hours with my husband riding along as my backseat passenger. I’ve flown many hours giving rides to my friends and family, both men and women. I’ve landed at airports all over central and eastern America, and just as often as not, a man was my passenger. Through all my flying with a member of the opposite sex on board -Â menÂ – I’ve found a few things impossible not to notice.
In most cases, I get an entirely different reception when I taxi up with a man inside the airplane versus when I’m solo or with another woman.
Here’s my short list of common assumptions and reactions when there’s a man in my airplane with me:
- I’m with my CFI
- I’m the front seat passenger
- I’m a pilot but not the PIC
- Conversations, refueling & tie-down questions are directed to the man, not me
And my short list of common reactions and comments when I arrive solo or with another woman:
- Hey, a woman pilot! (No men in there, so must be!)
- 20 Questions – What engine ya got on that thing? Do you fly the big iron? Do you have any single friends?!
- Now that’s cool. You girls are having too much fun!
- We don’t get many women here.
- I wish my wife liked to fly. 🙁
To be fair, I might also get the same reception any male pilot might; “Welcome”, “The bathroom’s down the hall” or “Need help with tie-down or fuel?” But I can’t ignore the obvious either. Women pilots and men pilots are received in different ways at many airports I’ve visited.
I’ve never been a card-carrying women’s libber. I’m not convinced women need a hand up and believe it’s up to each of us to achieve whatever we set our sites on. Compared to the poor, middle age, white man who can’t claim special status like we women might, we have many advantages.
But on those occasions when I hop out of my airplane and find myself feeling like the luggage handler, I realize women pilots are still an oddity. Yes, absolutely, we might be treated differently, but that’s not always a bad thing. There’s a learning curve happening across the world that we’re part of and our job is to keep on doing what we’re doing. Flying. Often. Introducing this amazing gift we have to other women whenever possible.