Kalin’s Chronicles: Forty, Fabulous & Flying High

This past summer I was on an AirTran flight back to Atlanta from Orlando, when the woman next to me and two women behind me started discussing their fear of flying. I was chiming in with my own concerns about flying through a thunderstorm, when the woman across the isle from me said, “If I’m not worried, you don’t worry.”  I thought, “Who is this bold passenger?”

Well, it turns out that Julie Hornwood is an AirTran pilot! (Photo: Julie Hornwood)

Julie is one of more than 42,000 women pilots in the United States – only seven percent of all pilots.  She recently turned 40, so I decided to share her thoughts with you.

Why I love flying

I had wanted to be an airline pilot as far back as I can remember.  I love the cloud formations and decision making abilities and the people I meet along the road.

I fly a 737 as a captain which is the most common type of airplane flown by the airlines today.  I’m on call to fill in for pilots who are on vacation, out sick or in training so my route varies, but most of my trips originate out of Orlando and I fly a lot of Baltimore and Milwaukee routes.

Being a woman pilot

I love being among just a few women pilots because I can inspire girls on my plane to reach for the stars when it comes to their lives and their careers.  And being a tom boy when I was young, I seem to fit right in with the male pilots.  My co-pilots all enjoy flying with me because my tone is professional, relaxed and easy.

Favorite leisure travel

When I’m not working I love exploring new cultures and places.  I love Sandals Resorts, and I love Windstar Cruises.  Sailing and flying are very similar in that a sail is basically a wing turned up to the sky.

Tip for fearful flyers

The pilot has made thousands of successful trips and we are well-trained and very experienced.  It is hundreds of times safer than driving.

Turning 40

There were celebrations from my flight crew, a surprise party from friends and family, and I spent five days in Puerto Rico with friends.  My 40’s are truly freeing of worry about others’ approval.  I’m finally living for me!  Look up in the front as you board your next flight… I just might be there.

I hope Julie inspired you to live your dreams.  Send me your stories about flying with female pilots.  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.