June 12, 2008 — Good things come to those who wait, or so the saying goes. But Amanda Smith didn’t have to wait long for good things to happen to her after her interest in aviation was fueled by a Young Eagles flight.
Smith, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, said her fascination with aviation started with her parents taking her to airshows as a child. “I remember looking up at airplanes and thinking they were cool. I loved seeing the performers.”
But her Young Eagles ride cemented her interest. “I was about 16 when my dad woke me up one morning at 6 and said they were giving free airplane rides and that I should get dressed,” she recalled. “It was the fastest I ever got ready.”
At the Young Eagles rally, she met many of the EAA Chapter 75 pilots, and first went up with Keith Williams in his RV-6. “I didn’t stop asking him questions the whole time I was up,” she said. “He let me fly … it was just amazing.”
So amazing that Smith didn’t leave the flight rally after her flight. She stuck around the entire day. From that point on, she was a regular at Chapter 75 Young Eagles rallies and meetings. “I loved hanging out and talking shop,” she said.
Before she graduated from high school in June 2003, she had joined EAA, Chapter 75 and attended the EAA AirVenture Advanced Aviation Camp.
She obtained her private pilot certificate in August 2003 and her commercial license in June 2004. By December, she had obtained her instrument rating, and by the following December, her Certified Flight Instructor license. By April 2006, she added the CFII Instrument instructor license and Smith was back at the EAA advanced camp in 2006 and 2007 in a different role —working as an intern and counselor.
She graduated in May 2007 from the Florida Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in aviation management, but had been employed at the school since January 2006 as a flight instructor. In May 2007, she received a certificate of recognition from the school after safely instructing a solo student pilot — who was making his first unsupervised solo flight — with engine failure to land without incident.
About two months later, she experienced engine failure herself while at EAA AirVenture, and safely landed.
On Oct. 14, 2007, she was hired by Air Wisconsin, after being talked into applying by a friend. She finished her training in December, and is now a first officer there, flying in the right seat of the 50-passenger CRJ200 for their East Coast routes.
Smith, 23, said she isn’t sure what will come next in her career. She may eventually fly cargo or corporate. “But honestly, I have no ideas,” she said. “Until six months ago, flying for an airline was my long-term goal.”
But her father knows one thing. “She wouldn't be where she's at today, and wouldn't be heading for much more had it not been for that first Young Eagles flight,” said Terry Smith. “Thank you, EAA and Chapter 75.”
Amanda Smith stands next to the plane she flies for Air Wisconsin. Photo courtesy Amanda Smith
Amanda Smith was hired by Air Wisconsin Corp. in 2007 and now flies the East Coast routes. Photo courtesy Amanda Smith
Amanda Smith and other interns and CFI/CFII instructors at the 2006 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Photo courtesy Amanda Smith