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Go for It

Female UPS crew encourages others to try aviation careers

By Barbara A. Schmitz

July 26, 2017 - The largely female crew operating the UPS 767 that parked on Boeing Plaza Wednesday as part of WomenVenture activities has a message for female convention-goers: Aviation is a really good career for you.

The Boeing plane, piloted by Capts. Stacey Bie and Alyse Adkins, flew into Oshkosh early Wednesday, and served as the backdrop for the annual WomenVenture group photo before taking off that night.

“It was overwhelming to fly in,” said Alyse, who was project lead for the AirVenture visit and selected the crew. “It was a privilege and an honor.”

Stacey, who also flies her own RV-7A, said she hoped their presence would serve as a testament that aviation is a good career for women. “Women sometimes start in aviation, but then fade out of it because of family life. But it is sustainable. As mothers, we are proof of that.”

Stacey has two sons, now 20 and 22, who were both born when she was already working for UPS. Alyse’s children, also boys, are 7 months and 3 years old.

Stacey’s interest in aviation began in high school, thanks to a track coach who taught an aviation science class. She went on to fly through the U.S. Air Force. Alyse became interested in aviation by flying commercially, but it was her high school principal who let her out of study hall to take flight lessons that helped turn her interest into a reality. She soloed on her 16th birthday and got her private pilot certificate at 17, and finished her training while in college.

Line maintenance supervisor Angel Green understands some of the difficulties women face working in a male-dominated field. “My first job I was told I was a distraction, and that I couldn’t work on a customer’s airplane,” she said. “The guys I was working with really stuck up for me, but it got me thinking about how I can help other women.”

Today, Green is a part of the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance. “It’s our way of saying you’re not in this alone. Plus, we have a scholarship program and try to inspire the next generation of women to get into maintenance,” she said.

One of the biggest barriers to women entering aviation careers is their own perspective. “Too many say, ‘I can’t do that.’ It’s one of those things where you just need to try it to see if you have an aptitude or an interest in it,” Angel said.

A&P mechanic Dorothy Marquette acknowledged that there aren’t many aircraft maintenance women, but that doesn’t mean it’s a job women shouldn’t pursue. “This job is awesome,” she said. “Every day is different, and you won’t just sit at a desk.”

And the field is rife with opportunities, Dorothy said. “The average age of a mechanic for UPS is 55. It won’t be long before they start retiring.”

Flight control manager Sherri Roberts decided to go to her first AirVenture a year ago, but took a day off her vacation to join the UPS airplane and crew on Wednesday.

“I’m an airplane junkie who could do everything and anything with airplanes 24 hours a day,” she said. Sherri flies a Skyhawk and is working on her commercial multiengine rating.

Her advice to other women is to go for it.

“See what’s out there and take advantage of every opportunity to see if you like something,” Sherri said. “You won’t know until you try.”

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