From president to pilot

  • Karen Mitchell poses planeside following her successful checkride and certification. Courtesy

Published: 8/20/2020 11:45:35 AM
Modified: 8/20/2020 11:45:23 AM

WinnAero President Karen Mitchell, a local high school teacher, took flight lessons after the organization had to cancel its youth camps.  She enrolled at Sky Bright Aviation at Laconia Airport, one of two fixed-based operators at Laconia offering flight lessons.  

Amassing 45 flight hours over several months,  Mitchell soloed on March 31, and then kept up her instruction under the guidance of one of Sky Bright’s Certified Flight Instructors, Mark Donovan, until she completed all the hours necessary for her FAA license.  

That big day came on July 15 when she passed her checkride with FAA Designated Pilot Examiner Jim Loranger. A typical checkride for a private pilot license requires a pilot candidate to perform 20 basic maneuvers in the air (including various take-off and landing scenarios), as well as an extensive oral exam with topics from navigation systems to meteorology to aeronautical safety. 

Mitchell, reflecting on her accomplishment, thanked the WinnAero board members, several of them pilots themselves, who encouraged her to keep pursuing her dream of flying. She also thanked the staff at SkyBright for being so accommodating and supportive.  Lastly, she wanted to acknowledge the generosity of the Ninety-Nines, the official international association of women pilots.

“Without the Amelia Earhart FlyNow scholarship from the 99s, it would have taken me far longer to achieve my flight goal.  I am indebted to my sisters in the sky who helped make my dream a reality,” said Mitchell.

The Eastern New England Chapter of the 99s Chapter Chairwoman, Jessie Zuberek added “we are so proud of Karen for all her hard work and determination to receive her PPL certificate.  We count ourselves lucky to have her among our membership. Starting day one, she contributed in a strong way; from working with the Museum of Science in Boston to have our members present at the highly successful Women and Girls in Science and Engineering Day (WISE), to coordinating what is becoming an annual birthday celebration each year at the Laconia Airport honoring one of our founding members, Amelia Earhart.  It is experiences like these, and so many more offered by the Ninety Nines, that we hope will share our history and help build the future for women and girls in aviation.” 

Mitchell is looking forward to more flight time with the aviation community at the Laconia Airport and beyond as she continues training toward advanced pilot ratings.  She hopes to one day add “flight instructor” to her teaching credentials.

Read more about WinnAero at winnaero.org.  Questions about the 99s may be directed to info@womenpilotsene.org.




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