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Mustang Students Attend Women in Aviation Event
(Mustang, Oklahoma – November 5, 2021) – Students with Mustang Public Schools recently had the opportunity to hear from pioneers in the aviation industry at the Oklahoma Women in Aviation and Aerospace Luncheon held on Friday, November 5, 2021. Seniors Madison Baird, Lillie Putman and Emily Lane accompanied MPS Superintendent Charles Bradley, MHS Principal Dr. Kathy Knowles, and MHS Aviation Instructor Gary Knowles as guests of Senator Paul Rosino.
The Oklahoma Airport Operators Association, along with the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, hosted the state’s fifth annual Oklahoma Women in Aviation & Aerospace Day and those who attended heard updates about Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC), the future of the industry and how they can advocate on behalf of aviation and aerospace for women across the state. Celebrated annually since 2017, Oklahoma Women in Aviation and Aerospace Day has been recognized since former Sen. Paul Scott worked with Senate Bill 230 along with the Oklahoma legislature to officially honor the contribution of Oklahoma women in the state’s aviation and aerospace industry annually on Dec. 9.
“I thought it was really awesome to hear from other women how it is,” Baird said. “I feel like it’s a little terrifying going into a more male-dominated career field, no matter what, whether it’s the Air Force or commercial flying. [But with this,] you get an idea of what to expect.” Mustang High School began offering their aviation program three years ago, Mr. Knowles said. “My predecessor started with twenty students and now we are up to over one hundred students in the program.” Students are able to work with up to five full flight simulators, gain an understanding and an overview of ground school, take written flight exams and more. “It gives people, who maybe don’t have people in their family who have flown or worked around planes but have been interested in it and don’t know how to get into it because of the lack of resources, a great opportunity,” Baird said.
According to a press release from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, former Sen. Paul Scott agreed to carry the measure and filed the request bill on behalf of the Aeronautics Commission for Senate Bill 230. The prestigious day marks in history the birth of Chickasaw aviator Pearl Carter Scott, of Marlow, Oklahoma. “Pearl Carter Scott was an inspiration to all women in and outside of aviation,” Scott said. “There are many women who have made great strides in aviation and aerospace in our state, I believe all female aviators and aerospace personnel should be recognized for their contributions.”
A release states, “Scott learned to fly at the age of 13 under legendary aviator Wiley Post. She became the youngest pilot in the United States with her first solo flight on Sept. 12, 1929, the same year that Amelia Earhart established the female pilot group, the Ninety-Nines.”
During the event, students received the opportunity to hear from the keynote speaker Astronaut Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk. According to another release, Funk was joined by local and state officials including Gov. Stitt, Mayor Holt, Secretary Gatz, Aeronautics Director Grayson Ardies, Aerospace State Director Geoff Camp and Astronaut John Herrington in addition to the Ninety-Nines — a women's pilot group — from across the United States.
Funk is an American aviator and space tourist, as well as the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. She was also the first female civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and the first female Federal Aviation Agency inspector, as well as one of the Mercury 13. According to the release, “Funk became the oldest woman to go to space on July 20, 2021, at age 82, as part of Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft during its suborbital flight.”
More About the Students
Putman’s father bought and sold airplane parts. Her initial interest was engineering. However, after taking the first aviation class at MHS, Putman said the idea of becoming a pilot became more intriguing. She aims to become a corporate pilot of her own business after obtaining a college education and completing all her flight ratings. The senior has already flown a Cessna 150 by herself out of El Reno’s airport.
Aviation has been no stranger to Lane, as most of her family is in the Air Force, with her parents being flight nurses. “I’ll be the fourth-generation aviator in my family,” she said. Once getting a degree in aerospace aviation from Oklahoma State University, Lane aspires to be an airline pilot.
The Air Force is familiar to Baird, as well. Her father was a flyer for the branch. Baird plans on attaining her basics from Oklahoma City Community College. She will then join the Air Force. “I want to be a flyer like my dad was,” Baird said. After serving, she plans on attending OSU to achieve an agriculture business degree.
About Mustang Public Schools
The Mustang Public School District covers over 72 square miles in Oklahoma and Canadian counties with the City of Mustang at its center. The district is the largest employer in Canadian County, with more than 1,500 certified and support employees. As one of Oklahoma’s Top Workplaces, the school district offers a comprehensive compensation package for full-time employees, in addition to a satisfying working environment. There are eight elementary schools (grades PreK-4), three intermediate centers (grades 5-6), three middle schools (grades 7-8), one high school (grades 9-12), and an educational center which houses pre-kindergarten and alternative education.
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