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Piloting scholarship has Hagerstown woman soaring

July 26, 2010|By LUCIA TAYO
  • Sandra Fox is pictured with a Diamond DA40XLS airplane.
Submitted photo,

A $7,000 scholarship from The Ninety-Nines, an international organization for female pilots, has made it possible for one woman to further her dream of soaring in the sky.

Sandra Fox, 50, of Hagerstown, said she was not only excited about winning the scholarship, but surprised because she is older.

"I thought they would give the scholarship to someone younger with a long career ahead of them, so I was surprised that they considered me," she said.

Fox said she became a member of The Ninety-Nines -- a nonprofit group established in 1929 by 99 female pilots -- in 2008, when she moved to Hagerstown with her fiance.

Fox said she became interested in piloting during her teenage years, when she was a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol. She had other concerns, however, so her passion for flying was put on the back burner until about three years ago.

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She said that when her fiance took her for a plane ride on their one-month anniversary, she was reminded of how much she loved flying.

In 2007, Fox got her pilot's license, which allowed her to fly a plane, but not for profit.

A year later, she said she received her Instrument Rating, which allowed her to navigate by using instruments. Last year, she received her commercial certificate, meaning she could now get paid to fly a banner or carry skydivers, she said.

Since 2007, Fox has taken steps to stay involved with piloting. She said she is a ground school instructor and facilitates cadet orientation at the Civil Air Patrol.

During orientation, she lets cadets take control of the airplane so they can experience flying, she said.

"I just love the look on the cadet's face when I give them the control and say, 'You fly the plane,'" Fox said.

Fox is using the scholarship money to take classes at Advanced Helicopter Concepts in Frederick, Md., so she can become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), a rating that will allow her to teach flying in the air.

Along with preparing to become a CFI, Fox -- who is a deputy commander for the Hagerstown Squadron -- said she is training to be a mission pilot for the Civil Air Patrol.

Fox is the FAA safety team representative for the airport in Hagerstown. The safety team is composed of volunteers who promote camaraderie among those who use the airport and who provide educational seminars for pilots.

Fox works as a registered nurse at Waynesboro (Pa.) Hospital. Even though she is not able to pursue piloting as a career, she said teaching and flying help her stay connected.

"I plan to teach as many pilots as possible, and to continue teaching for as long as I can," Fox said.

She said there have been times when piloting was difficult because some older pilots still stereotype, but she encourages more women to strive to become pilots.

"Girls are always taught to be (flight attendants), and boys to be pilots. We need more female pilots," she said. "Actually, we need more pilots in general."




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More information about The Ninety-Nines can be found at http://www.ninety-nines.org.

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