GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — As pandemic-related restrictions continue to be scaled back and demand increases in the aviation industry, the repercussions of the global airplane pilot shortage are becoming more evident.
A local group of women wants to be part of the solution to that shortage while also making their mark in a substantial male-dominated field. Just 7% of commercial pilots in 2020 were women, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.
Chloe Mattox, a 17-year-old student at Ayden-Grifton High School, is one of nine women currently taking flight lessons at Dillon’s Aviation, which is located at Pitt-Greenville Airport. Mattox typically flies about three times a week, and her long-term goal is to work as a pilot with FedEx.
How do Mattox’s friends react when they find out her extracurricular activity of choice is aviation?”They think we’re crazy,” Mattox said, “And I’m all for it. We are little daredevils and love getting out of our comfort zone.”
The pilots-in-training come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are discovering a passion for flying at a young age, while others waited until later in life to start taking lessons and exploring aviation as a new career path.
“I went to college, did that, and then I just did a 180 and attempted to fly,” said Emily Osborne, another one of the pilots-in-training. “Luckily everyone’s been lovely and supportive.”
The impact they have as women in the aviation field is just another driving force for the group.
“We’re seeing more and more women get into aviation these days,” said Monica Mattox, Chloe’s mother. “I think you’re going to see that as a growing trend. I think it’s very exciting, and I’m very proud of her.”