GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Ashley Hayes is no stranger to jets and pilots.
She works in technology operations at Honda Aircraft Company, which produces the HondaJet.
As she grew in her career, another passion began to develop.
“I actually started in customer service as a business analyst and as we began to build programs and software that would service our customers, I wanted to learn how to fly even more because we talked to pilots,” Hayes said.
She knew for sure that she wanted to become a pilot when she took her discovery flight.
Getting to where she is today has been a four-year journey that she pursued in her 40s.
“So a lot later in life I chose this new, fun hobby,” she said.
It’s fun, but it also has purpose.
Hayes is a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight.
It’s a nonprofit organization that provides free transportation to medical treatments for people in need.
The organization operates through different chapters across the country.
The program helped Hayes coordinate and co-pilot a flight for the person who donated a kidney to her close friend’s daughter.
“When we were taking off in the plane, I just felt my eyes water because I just was like, ‘We did it.’ The weather didn't hold us back. The transplant went through. We're helping two families and it was just an amazing feeling that I'll forever treasure,” she said.
Hayes also volunteers with Pilots N Paws.
She hopes to become a certified flight instructor in about a year and donate her time to people who can’t afford flight lessons.
Hayes grew up in the Piedmont.
She graduated from Davie High School and High Point University.