We recently spoke with Allison Leeward, who works as a Real Estate Marketing Executive but is also a fourth generation pilot and aviation enthusiast. In the following interview, Allison shed light on being a young female pilot and some important advice on operating an aircraft. Check it out…
How did you get into aviation?
I have been so lucky to always be involved in aviation, I’m a fourth generation pilot. Both of my parents are pilots, and I grew up with a runway in my backyard
What is your current job?
I am the director of marketing at a commercial real estate firm… I‘ve recently introduced a lot of new photography initiatives that allow me to occasionally fly drones which is about as close to aviation as I get with this job. I love my job and love that it allows me income to spend on flying airplanes!
Tell us about your most memorable adventure/ flight.
This is a hard one to answer! It’s a toss up between all of the flying I was able to do in the backcountry of Alaska and the day that my husband proposed while I was flying the seaplane. Too many amazing memories to choose from.
What is the most important thing to remember when operating an aircraft?
Fly the plane first! If something is going wrong the first thing to do is keep flying the plane correctly to avoid more unnecessary risk, this is especially true with tailwheel airplanes when taking off/landing.
What are some misconceptions about being a female pilot?
Luckily I have a pretty tight knit group of aviation friends, so I haven't been exposed to too much sexism in aviation; but a lot of people accuse me (and other women) of only flying for attention, and just doing it "to look cool" -- but honestly flying is a pretty niche thing... I can think of a lot of other sports/hobbies I could "pretend to be into" if I was only in it for the attention! hah!
What is your favorite thing about being a pilot?
My favorite thing is the places it can take me and the people I have gotten to meet along the way!
What part of the world have you not yet been to that is on your bucket list?
I have never been to south america, and specifically want to explore Patagonia and Chile -- I can't wait to hike and fish and ride horses and drink all the wine!
What are your 6 essential items when in flight?
I think I'm actually happiest when I can take nothing flying ... such as flying with the windows open, barefoot, headset off in an area I know VFR well so i don't even need to look at a map!
-- But 5 things I take on pretty much any flight are: a headset, my phone (for the sectional map), shoes just in case I have to land somewhere unplanned, a hair-tie because it can get sooooo hot in Florida, a camera just in case it turns into the most spectacular sunset or sight that I want to remember forever and now my Torgoen watch.
What are you reading/ listening to?
I am currently watching/reading my IFR ground school prep course!
What advice would you give to young girls about becoming a pilot?
Sometimes you need a thick skin, but don’t let anyone tell you horror stories. 99% of pilots and people in aviation are ENCOURAGING of young people to get into aviation, whether you are a guy or girl. Kickass, show them you’re the best and be YOU. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too pretty, don’t let anyone tell you you’ll be perfect at it cause you’re a tomboy, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t be a girly girl. Don’t let anyone tell you you’ll have it easier than the boys and definitely don’t let anyone tell you you’ll have it harder than the boys. Sometimes being a girl will give you a step up, and sometimes it’ll bring you down…but in the end you’re GOING to be badass, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.