Flying airplanes in Alaska is like leaving home for college only better!

In the beginning…

This is the perfect picture to begin this post. Brittany Wilderom, it was her way of leaving home for college only better. This is the next chapter in a story that started a number of years ago in her quest to become a professional pilot.

I do not remember when we met, but it must have been about eight years ago. In an early conversation she mentioned that her dream was to be a Missionary Pilot and she was in the early stages of her quest to achieve this dream. She was full of enthusiasm,  short on money and would go on to work at many different jobs to pay for her training.

One of my earliest memories is seeing her driving the fuel truck for Western Cardinal around the Camarillo airport. A young women driving a fuel truck, servicing airplanes, was unusual and for me memorable. It was clear to me that she was willing to do whatever it took to earn her wings. One of the requirements of becoming a Missionary Pilot was that you had to possess an A&P rating in order to work on the airplane that you would be flying in remote parts of this world. So, she gets a job as an A&P assistant to learn and earn her way to her goal. Suffice it to say that she was very creative and found many ways to fly and to build her hours. During this time she fell in love with flying tailwheel airplanes, especially the Cub.

August 18, 2018

The journey has not been easy and life got in the way more than once. When we first started working on her instrument rating she walked away in frustration. I understood and let her know that if she changed her mind I would be ready if she was. We would regularly see each other and I would let her know that we could get this done. It wasn’t easy and we had our ups and downs and this picture says it all. 

October 18, 2018

After she reached the Instrument Rating milestone the Commercial Rating was next and Brittany was motivated. She attacked it while navigating all of the distractions that life can put in our path. Nonetheless, she managed to grind it out and two months later she added Commercial Pilot to her license. Along the way she had managed to leverage her tailwheel flying skills into a flying job towing gliders at the Southern California Soaring Academy. It was during this time that I noticed how much she had grown as a pilot and as a confident young women.


Brittany is now a Pilot for Smokey Bay Air in Homer,  Alaska. She arrived in Homer in early April 2019, and once the homesickness subsided, she has settled into her new life and the adventure it has offered her. We communicate regularly and she shares pictures of her wanderings around her new playground, a few shared below.

Sincere appreciation

I started writing this blog, years ago, as a way to chronicle my appreciation for the people and the events that make my life as an Aviation Educator such a wonderful experience. The adventure that I shared with Brittany has been one that I will treasure. She helped make me a better teacher. She confirmed for me that a belief in one’s self, the courage to not give up, to meet each challenge and frustration with personal conviction are the characteristics that lead to the achievement of all our goals and aspirations. It wasn’t easy for her but she persevered and now she is catching fish, playing with the bear’s and enjoying the special beauty and ruggedness that is Alaska.



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