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WomenVenture Flight Training Scholarship Awarded to Rachel Conklin

By Laura Beck

July 24, 2018 - Rachel Conklin’s first experience with aviation started out a bit rough.

When she was 13 years old her father promised her an airplane and a glider ride — the glider ride came first. As she was being strapped in, she was so scared that she started crying. Then the tow started, and the plane lifted off. Rachel said within 100 feet her face was inches from the window, looking out.

“I was mesmerized, and I fell in love right away; I couldn’t get enough of it,” Rachel said.

Rachel, who is from Washingtonville, New York, is the recipient of the WomenVenture Flight Training Scholarship, which will be formally presented to her Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at the WomenVenture Power Lunch.

Rachel, 26, currently holds her private pilot certificate, which she earned when she was 17. She earned her private glider certificate at age 14. Rachel is partway through her instrument rating; she picked her training back up after a hiatus due to school and work.

After obtaining her private ticket, Rachel left for college at the State University of New York at Fredonia where she studied violin performance. She graduated and began her career in music. She continued to fly, although she did not move forward with obtaining advanced ratings. She said she now has more flexibility with work to pursue her dream of flying.

“It’s the right time for me personally,” Rachel said.

Rachel currently teaches private violin lessons part time, is in three regional orchestras, and also works at the Wurtsboro-Sullivan County Airport. She said she’s very happy and excited to receive the $5,000 scholarship since all of her jobs are part time, and the extra financial help will help her finish her instrument rating.

The scholarship is part of an EAA initiative to help women pursue flight interests and remain active and involved in aviation. Part of the selection criteria is that the applicant be determined and focused, with a clear passion and enthusiasm for aviation.

Rachel wants to get all of her ratings and pursue a career flying professionally. She said she’s not sure if she will work for an airline or in some other area, but she definitely wants to be flying for a living.

“I love flying,” Rachel said, “I want to see where it can take me. I don’t want to limit myself.”

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