Member Corner

Here's a great story about our own President and photog, Endeavor Air First Officer Allison Abellaneda.
From eBlast, October 2021

Our Women in Aviation Tampa Bay Chapter President, Allison Abellaneda, has completed her airline pilot training! She didn’t always know she wanted to be a pilot, though.

Allison graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS in Biochemistry then, for fun, earned her Private Pilot (Airplane Single Engine Land) Certificate in her home state of Minnesota at Thunderbird Aviation in four months. Upon realizing how extraordinary flying was, her career aspirations changed. She then moved to Florida in 2018 to pursue her new passion at ATP Flight School. She joined our Women in Aviation Tampa Bay Chapter right away to get involved in the aviation community and learn more about the industry. Then she became our treasurer in 2019 and our president in 2020.

Upon earning her Commercial Pilot (Airplane Single Engine Land, Instrument Airplane, Multiengine Land) and Flight Instructor (Airplane Single Engine, Instrument Airplane, Airplane Multiengine) ratings in seven months, she taught as an Airplane Flight Instructor and evaluated as a Check Instructor at Tampa Bay Aviation for two years. She felt honored to have the opportunity to transition her skills from teaching yoga, where she learned each student has unique goals, to teaching students how to fly. Allison strove to not only share the excitement of aviation but also challenge her students in order for them to achieve more than they thought possible.

Allison enjoys continually learning about different aspects of aviation. Gaining her high-performance, complex, and tailwheel airplane endorsements, she appreciates her certificates as “licenses to learn.” During her time as a flight instructor, she added more ratings to her Commercial Pilot Certificate, including Airplane Single Engine Sea at Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base and Airplane Multiengine Sea at Sebring Aviation. Additionally, she earned Private Pilot Privileges for Rotorcraft Helicopter and Instrument Helicopter at Tampa Bay Aviation.

After three months of airline training, Allison is officially an Airline Transport Pilot and a First Officer for Endeavor Air! With her CL-65 type rating, she flies CRJ900 and CRJ700 Delta Connection aircraft. She absolutely loves her job and the ability to travel to see new places!

Allison Abellaneda

Here's a great story about our own President and photog, Endeavor Air First Officer Allison Abellaneda. From eBlast, October 2021 Our Women in Aviation Tampa Bay Chapter President, Allison Abellaneda, has completed her airline pilot training! She didn’t always know she wanted to be a pilot, though. Allison graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS in Biochemistry then, for fun, earned her Private Pilot (Airplane Single Engine Land) Certificate in her home state of Minnesota at Thunderbird Aviation in four months. Upon realizing how extraordinary flying was, her career aspirations changed. She then moved to Florida in 2018 to pursue her new passion at ATP Flight School. She joined our Women in Aviation Tampa Bay Chapter right away to get involved in the aviation community and learn more about the industry. Then she became our treasurer in 2019 and our president in 2020. Upon earning her Commercial Pilot (Airplane Single Engine Land, Instrument Airplane, Multiengine Land) and Flight Instructor (Airplane Single Engine, Instrument Airplane, Airplane Multiengine) ratings in seven months, she taught as an Airplane Flight Instructor and evaluated as a Check Instructor at Tampa Bay Aviation for two years. She felt honored to have the opportunity to transition her skills from teaching yoga, where she learned each student has unique goals, to teaching students how to fly. Allison strove to not only share the excitement of aviation but also challenge her students in order for them to achieve more than they thought possible. Allison enjoys continually learning about different aspects of aviation. Gaining her high-performance, complex, and tailwheel airplane endorsements, she appreciates her certificates as “licenses to learn.” During her time as a flight instructor, she added more ratings to her Commercial Pilot Certificate, including Airplane Single Engine Sea at Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base and Airplane Multiengine Sea at Sebring Aviation. Additionally, she earned Private Pilot Privileges for Rotorcraft Helicopter and Instrument Helicopter at Tampa Bay Aviation. After three months of airline training, Allison is officially an Airline Transport Pilot and a First Officer for Endeavor Air! With her CL-65 type rating, she flies CRJ900 and CRJ700 Delta Connection aircraft. She absolutely loves her job and the ability to travel to see new places!
"Daniel Funk is co-founder of the Women in Aviation Tampa Bay Chapter and an Aerial Exterminator. For the past twenty years he has been a dedicated helicopter pilot for Pinellas County performing mosquito control and crop dusting. He is affectionately known as “Skeeter Two” and flies a Bell 47 helicopter built in 1967. 

When Daniel was 13-years-old, he was inspired to become a pilot while riding with his Dad on heavily congested US Hwy 19 in Pinellas County. A friend of his Dad’s, George Hunt, was a real estate developer and would fly a helicopter back and forth to check on jobs. Daniel observed George’s helicopter while they were stuck in traffic and thought to himself how nice it would be to fly above the gridlock below. 

Daniel obtained his pilot certification when he was 25 years old and has over 13,000 flight hours. He is fascinated by aviation and if he had a magic wand, he’d love to fly business aircraft and helicopters. His aviation mentors are pilots Gene Price and Jim Anderson who both influenced his love of flying. 

Daniel’s favorite quote is “I’d rather be on the ground wishing I was up in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground.”

In his free time, Daniel performs under the stage name of Sultan Fuego - The Man Immune to Pain. He various side show acts include The Human Blockhead, The Strongman Steel Rod Bending and The Human Volcano breathing fire.

As his ultimate act for humanity, Daniel has achieved the incredible milestone of 100+ gallons of blood and platelets donations saving lives. Daniel is truly a hero!" Interview by Angye Fox

From eBlast, August 2022

Daniel Funk

"Daniel Funk is co-founder of the Women in Aviation Tampa Bay Chapter and an Aerial Exterminator. For the past twenty years he has been a dedicated helicopter pilot for Pinellas County performing mosquito control and crop dusting. He is affectionately known as “Skeeter Two” and flies a Bell 47 helicopter built in 1967. When Daniel was 13-years-old, he was inspired to become a pilot while riding with his Dad on heavily congested US Hwy 19 in Pinellas County. A friend of his Dad’s, George Hunt, was a real estate developer and would fly a helicopter back and forth to check on jobs. Daniel observed George’s helicopter while they were stuck in traffic and thought to himself how nice it would be to fly above the gridlock below. Daniel obtained his pilot certification when he was 25 years old and has over 13,000 flight hours. He is fascinated by aviation and if he had a magic wand, he’d love to fly business aircraft and helicopters. His aviation mentors are pilots Gene Price and Jim Anderson who both influenced his love of flying. Daniel’s favorite quote is “I’d rather be on the ground wishing I was up in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground.” In his free time, Daniel performs under the stage name of Sultan Fuego - The Man Immune to Pain. He various side show acts include The Human Blockhead, The Strongman Steel Rod Bending and The Human Volcano breathing fire. As his ultimate act for humanity, Daniel has achieved the incredible milestone of 100+ gallons of blood and platelets donations saving lives. Daniel is truly a hero!" Interview by Angye Fox From eBlast, August 2022
Colonel Jean Havens, USAF, Retired, was featured in the December 2022 issue of Windy Whispers. 
Colonel Havens is active in our chapter's Outreach program and can be reached through waitampabay@gmail.com.

"I grew up in Roanoke, Virginia and became interested in the space program and aviation especially after a family summer trip to Kennedy Space Center.  I went to school at the University of Pennsylvania and studied engineering.  I joined ROTC there after the first year in order to help pay for my hefty tuition bill, and also did a little flying towards my PPL (private pilot license) during that time.  I must admit too, that the original TOP GUN movie came out in this era and got me pretty motivated about fighter jets, and by that time I had caught the flying passion bug for sure. 

I was granted a pilot slot during ROTC, so after UPENN graduation in 1992 I went directly into the Air Force and was able to attend US Air Force pilot training in 1996.  After that extremely tough year, I earned my silver pilot’s wings in 1997 and graduated #2 in my class.  Luckily, they had just opened up the fighter pilot field to women in 1993, so I was able to select F-16s as my primary aircraft.  I attended F-16 basic training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona the following year, and then began my career as a US Air Force pilot. 

My career took me to many overseas bases and also flying various aircraft and missions...

I lived 1 year in Kunsan, South Korea in the 35th Fighter Squadron “PANTONS” flying the F-16;

3 years in Aviano, Italy in the 510th Fighter Squadron “BUZZARDS” flying the F-16;

2 years in Kirkuk, Iraq flying the C-208 as an air advisor;

2 years in Islamabad, Pakistan working at the embassy and flying the C-12;

3 years in Ankara, Turkey working at the embassy and flying the C-12;

and finally 2 years in Bogota, Colombia working at the embassy and flying the C-12. 

I logged over 3000 wonderful hours, including 750 combat hours, in F-16s, T-38s, C-208s, and C-12s. 

After 29 years of service I retired from the Air Force last summer and am now calling Clearwater, Florida my permanent home along with my wife Amy.  I decided to switch brain bites a little bit and am now taking classes in anthropology at USF St Pete, and am wondering how I might be able to combine my love of flying with this new area and/or archeology.  The sky has no limits really!  Keep chasing your dream always.  And once you get there, dream something new!"

Jean Havens

Colonel Jean Havens, USAF, Retired, was featured in the December 2022 issue of Windy Whispers. Colonel Havens is active in our chapter's Outreach program and can be reached through waitampabay@gmail.com. "I grew up in Roanoke, Virginia and became interested in the space program and aviation especially after a family summer trip to Kennedy Space Center. I went to school at the University of Pennsylvania and studied engineering. I joined ROTC there after the first year in order to help pay for my hefty tuition bill, and also did a little flying towards my PPL (private pilot license) during that time. I must admit too, that the original TOP GUN movie came out in this era and got me pretty motivated about fighter jets, and by that time I had caught the flying passion bug for sure. I was granted a pilot slot during ROTC, so after UPENN graduation in 1992 I went directly into the Air Force and was able to attend US Air Force pilot training in 1996. After that extremely tough year, I earned my silver pilot’s wings in 1997 and graduated #2 in my class. Luckily, they had just opened up the fighter pilot field to women in 1993, so I was able to select F-16s as my primary aircraft. I attended F-16 basic training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona the following year, and then began my career as a US Air Force pilot. My career took me to many overseas bases and also flying various aircraft and missions... I lived 1 year in Kunsan, South Korea in the 35th Fighter Squadron “PANTONS” flying the F-16; 3 years in Aviano, Italy in the 510th Fighter Squadron “BUZZARDS” flying the F-16; 2 years in Kirkuk, Iraq flying the C-208 as an air advisor; 2 years in Islamabad, Pakistan working at the embassy and flying the C-12; 3 years in Ankara, Turkey working at the embassy and flying the C-12; and finally 2 years in Bogota, Colombia working at the embassy and flying the C-12. I logged over 3000 wonderful hours, including 750 combat hours, in F-16s, T-38s, C-208s, and C-12s. After 29 years of service I retired from the Air Force last summer and am now calling Clearwater, Florida my permanent home along with my wife Amy. I decided to switch brain bites a little bit and am now taking classes in anthropology at USF St Pete, and am wondering how I might be able to combine my love of flying with this new area and/or archeology. The sky has no limits really! Keep chasing your dream always. And once you get there, dream something new!"
"Jordyn is a 15 year old sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School. 

Born in NJ, we moved every couple of years with her dad's job to VA, NC and OH. She has a younger sister named Chayse in 7th grade. 

We never lived near family, so I found myself driving the girls to visit the grandparents on my own thru the years when my ex husband was working. Instead of stopping at busy fast food places off the highway, I invested in a science museum membership which offered reciprocal passes to other museums all over the country.  I'd take a break from driving while the girls could get out, run around exploring all of the neat STEM exhibits. (The Udvar Hazy Center, Virginia Air and Space Center and the Airforce Museum in Dayton among many others)

Jordyn has always been academically gifted. We moved from Ohio to live with my mom here in Palm Harbor after my divorce and Jordyn started a brand new high school knowing 2 people on day one. By the end of freshman year she was ranked #1 out of 620+ students at  PHUHS. 

She's always been an adrenaline junkie. Tall for her age, she was able to ride all the big roller coasters before any of her classmates (and has ridden quite a few-you can ask her about those!). When she was 3 years old a friend took her up in his small plane and she was hooked. She's been asking for flying lessons ever since. She wants to skydive as soon as she turns 18. 

I promised Jordyn I would find a way for her to take flying lessons but as a single mom, I just needed some time to research how to do this affordably.

Life is serendipitous...I tell my girls you just never know who you're going to meet that can help you achieve your goals. In March, we were volunteering with the Miracle By the Bay special needs baseball program on the weekends in St Pete. We had to leave the game early because I had booked Jordyn a "discovery flight" at Albert Whitted Airport. (a belated Christmas gift). Board member(and event planner), Laurie Lupcho, mentioned to me she had just worked with Women In Aviaton to put on the GALA event and encouraged me to look into WIA for Jordyn and I am so thankful we did! 

We were able to join WIA and our very first event was the private Top Gun Maverick movie where Jordyn met other girls her age also interested in aviation and where we learned all about the Civil Air Patrol. 

Fast forward, Jordyn is now a Cadet with the Civil Air Patrol Clearwater Squadron and determined to work her way up in rank as quickly as possible, attending encampment over Christmas/New Years break this year. 

She's also joined the EAA and is looking forward to her first Young Eagles flight in October. 

She has hopes of attending the naval or air force academy and serving our country as an aviator." - Anne-Marie DiCenzo Toryk

From eBlast, October 2022

Jordyn Toryk

"Jordyn is a 15 year old sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School. Born in NJ, we moved every couple of years with her dad's job to VA, NC and OH. She has a younger sister named Chayse in 7th grade. We never lived near family, so I found myself driving the girls to visit the grandparents on my own thru the years when my ex husband was working. Instead of stopping at busy fast food places off the highway, I invested in a science museum membership which offered reciprocal passes to other museums all over the country. I'd take a break from driving while the girls could get out, run around exploring all of the neat STEM exhibits. (The Udvar Hazy Center, Virginia Air and Space Center and the Airforce Museum in Dayton among many others) Jordyn has always been academically gifted. We moved from Ohio to live with my mom here in Palm Harbor after my divorce and Jordyn started a brand new high school knowing 2 people on day one. By the end of freshman year she was ranked #1 out of 620+ students at PHUHS. She's always been an adrenaline junkie. Tall for her age, she was able to ride all the big roller coasters before any of her classmates (and has ridden quite a few-you can ask her about those!). When she was 3 years old a friend took her up in his small plane and she was hooked. She's been asking for flying lessons ever since. She wants to skydive as soon as she turns 18. I promised Jordyn I would find a way for her to take flying lessons but as a single mom, I just needed some time to research how to do this affordably. Life is serendipitous...I tell my girls you just never know who you're going to meet that can help you achieve your goals. In March, we were volunteering with the Miracle By the Bay special needs baseball program on the weekends in St Pete. We had to leave the game early because I had booked Jordyn a "discovery flight" at Albert Whitted Airport. (a belated Christmas gift). Board member(and event planner), Laurie Lupcho, mentioned to me she had just worked with Women In Aviaton to put on the GALA event and encouraged me to look into WIA for Jordyn and I am so thankful we did! We were able to join WIA and our very first event was the private Top Gun Maverick movie where Jordyn met other girls her age also interested in aviation and where we learned all about the Civil Air Patrol. Fast forward, Jordyn is now a Cadet with the Civil Air Patrol Clearwater Squadron and determined to work her way up in rank as quickly as possible, attending encampment over Christmas/New Years break this year. She's also joined the EAA and is looking forward to her first Young Eagles flight in October. She has hopes of attending the naval or air force academy and serving our country as an aviator." - Anne-Marie DiCenzo Toryk From eBlast, October 2022
“I just got back from my first time at AirVenture in OshKosh, Wisconsin and all I can say is wow! If you have a passion for a particular type of flying, I highly recommend getting involved and participating as a volunteer with that specific aircraft at an airshow. 

As an avid seaplane enthusiast and pilot, I volunteered my week at AirVenture with the Seaplane Pilots Association (SPA). While I did get to spend one day at the main show, I spent the rest of my time at the seaplane base down the road, which I preferred. While there, I was able to network and make a lot of new seaplane contacts. All were sincerely interested in my story and what I want to do with my career. They were more than helpful with their advice and experience and even took me on a couple of flights. I was able to log 2.1 hours of flight time in four different aircraft while there, for free! 

What many do not know is the OshKosh Seaplane Base is on private property. The property owners have been generously donating the use of their property at AirVenture for years. The seaplane base is only open for use during the two weeks of AirVenture and for a couple of clean up weekends prior and after the show.

As a marine biologist, I first became interested in utilizing seaplanes as a career when I started flying in the Florida Keys. Flying over the Florida Keys and the coral reef introduced me to the possibilities of using seaplanes to help study and preserve marine wildlife. With my current career and SCUBA experience as a dive master and scientific diver, I have seen the value to providing seaplane based research and SCUBA diving. This would allow rapid response to reefs affected by natural disasters and physical damage, something unprecedented in the marine and aviation fields. 

Furthermore, seaplanes could be utilized for offshore sea turtle releases and faster transport of scientific samples collected in remote, offshore areas. These seaplanes could reduce a potential multi-day trip to one day, resulting in reduced stress on transported species and reducing research staff time away from the office. Scientific samples needing to be driven or shipped to a facility by commercial airline, could also have the seaplane delivering the samples straight to the facility or airport vs. a long drive being incurred, further reducing transport stress. 

Ultimately, within a couple years I plan to enhance my interests by becoming a commercial seaplane pilot, merging two careers, and within 5 years, starting my goal of an aerial marine biology business. My anticipated success of combining sea and sky and expanding general aviation seaplane service for scientific use, will allow me to benefit the aviation community by offering unique flying opportunities to female pilots.

All I can say whether it be with WAI, the 99s, or other aviation groups such as SPA, the more I have participated, the more doors have opened. I am an advocate for expanding outside of your regular aviation group membership and taking the time to become more involved. I hope this insight to my experience gets you to volunteer more with what you are passionate about. You never know what opportunities may appear with the contacts you make. “ -Kelli O’Donnell

From eBlast September 2021

Kelli O'Donnell

“I just got back from my first time at AirVenture in OshKosh, Wisconsin and all I can say is wow! If you have a passion for a particular type of flying, I highly recommend getting involved and participating as a volunteer with that specific aircraft at an airshow. As an avid seaplane enthusiast and pilot, I volunteered my week at AirVenture with the Seaplane Pilots Association (SPA). While I did get to spend one day at the main show, I spent the rest of my time at the seaplane base down the road, which I preferred. While there, I was able to network and make a lot of new seaplane contacts. All were sincerely interested in my story and what I want to do with my career. They were more than helpful with their advice and experience and even took me on a couple of flights. I was able to log 2.1 hours of flight time in four different aircraft while there, for free! What many do not know is the OshKosh Seaplane Base is on private property. The property owners have been generously donating the use of their property at AirVenture for years. The seaplane base is only open for use during the two weeks of AirVenture and for a couple of clean up weekends prior and after the show. As a marine biologist, I first became interested in utilizing seaplanes as a career when I started flying in the Florida Keys. Flying over the Florida Keys and the coral reef introduced me to the possibilities of using seaplanes to help study and preserve marine wildlife. With my current career and SCUBA experience as a dive master and scientific diver, I have seen the value to providing seaplane based research and SCUBA diving. This would allow rapid response to reefs affected by natural disasters and physical damage, something unprecedented in the marine and aviation fields. Furthermore, seaplanes could be utilized for offshore sea turtle releases and faster transport of scientific samples collected in remote, offshore areas. These seaplanes could reduce a potential multi-day trip to one day, resulting in reduced stress on transported species and reducing research staff time away from the office. Scientific samples needing to be driven or shipped to a facility by commercial airline, could also have the seaplane delivering the samples straight to the facility or airport vs. a long drive being incurred, further reducing transport stress. Ultimately, within a couple years I plan to enhance my interests by becoming a commercial seaplane pilot, merging two careers, and within 5 years, starting my goal of an aerial marine biology business. My anticipated success of combining sea and sky and expanding general aviation seaplane service for scientific use, will allow me to benefit the aviation community by offering unique flying opportunities to female pilots. All I can say whether it be with WAI, the 99s, or other aviation groups such as SPA, the more I have participated, the more doors have opened. I am an advocate for expanding outside of your regular aviation group membership and taking the time to become more involved. I hope this insight to my experience gets you to volunteer more with what you are passionate about. You never know what opportunities may appear with the contacts you make. “ -Kelli O’Donnell From eBlast September 2021
What is an FBO?
In her own words:
An FBO, or Fixed Base Operator, is a terminal that operates on airport grounds to service both business and luxury aviation. FBOs provide fueling services, parking, hangar space, baggage handling, flight planning, customer concierge services, and more. I like to think of it as a luxurious parking lot/gas station for planes, where we provide any and every service for crew and passengers. If a customer requests something, we make it happen! 

Sheltair, a family-owned company, was founded in 1963 by Jerry Holland. Sheltair is the "nation's largest privately-owned aviation network, proudly operating 19 award-winning FBOs and managing over 4.5 million square feet of aviation related properties." Sheltair, appointed by Jerry Holland to his daughter Lisa Holland in 2020, is known for its service driven culture. 

Since I've worked at Sheltair, I've had the opportunity to not only learn about general aviation, but I've established relationships with individuals across the nation. As a student pilot and an avid lover of Airport Operations, Sheltair has shown me the general aviation side of the industry that I hadn't seen before- commercial aviation is fun and interesting, but general aviation is a world of its own. Every day is something new- you never know who will walk through that door or what opportunity will present itself. If you want a job/experience that is forever changing, working at an FBO may be for you. 

Sheltair Tampa, also known as the home of the Bucs and Lightning, gave me the opportunity to work Super Bowl LV where a runway and taxi ways were shut down to park approximately 200 jets. We saw some famous faces, were able to watch the flyover from our ramp, as well as listen in and watch the fireworks when the Bucs took the big win. A few world-famous trophies have made their way through our lobby, such as the Lombardi Trophy and the Stanley Cup as pictured below.

The Antonov, one of the largest cargo planes in the world, made an appearance on our ramp on its round trip to pick up and deliver simulators to its home in Germany. Sheltair employees were able to get up close for a few photos after working hours on end to help load and fuel the four engine beast.


Sheltair at Lakeland Linder International Airport has been on my list of Sheltair bases to visit, and Sheltair made that happen. I was sent to Sheltair Lakeland to help out for a weekend, where I learned their operations as well as taught them how Sheltair Tampa operates. Sheltair Lakeland also helped host Sun N' Fun traffic, allowing Sheltair employees an upfront ramp view of the show! 

Sheltair has truly given me opportunities I would have never been given elsewhere. If you're ever given the opportunity to work at an FBO and you love a fun, fast paced work environment, take it! They're more than just a place for planes to park- you never know where it'll take you or the opportunities you'll be given!

From eBlast, August 2021

Mariah Blackmon

What is an FBO? In her own words: An FBO, or Fixed Base Operator, is a terminal that operates on airport grounds to service both business and luxury aviation. FBOs provide fueling services, parking, hangar space, baggage handling, flight planning, customer concierge services, and more. I like to think of it as a luxurious parking lot/gas station for planes, where we provide any and every service for crew and passengers. If a customer requests something, we make it happen! Sheltair, a family-owned company, was founded in 1963 by Jerry Holland. Sheltair is the "nation's largest privately-owned aviation network, proudly operating 19 award-winning FBOs and managing over 4.5 million square feet of aviation related properties." Sheltair, appointed by Jerry Holland to his daughter Lisa Holland in 2020, is known for its service driven culture. Since I've worked at Sheltair, I've had the opportunity to not only learn about general aviation, but I've established relationships with individuals across the nation. As a student pilot and an avid lover of Airport Operations, Sheltair has shown me the general aviation side of the industry that I hadn't seen before- commercial aviation is fun and interesting, but general aviation is a world of its own. Every day is something new- you never know who will walk through that door or what opportunity will present itself. If you want a job/experience that is forever changing, working at an FBO may be for you. Sheltair Tampa, also known as the home of the Bucs and Lightning, gave me the opportunity to work Super Bowl LV where a runway and taxi ways were shut down to park approximately 200 jets. We saw some famous faces, were able to watch the flyover from our ramp, as well as listen in and watch the fireworks when the Bucs took the big win. A few world-famous trophies have made their way through our lobby, such as the Lombardi Trophy and the Stanley Cup as pictured below. The Antonov, one of the largest cargo planes in the world, made an appearance on our ramp on its round trip to pick up and deliver simulators to its home in Germany. Sheltair employees were able to get up close for a few photos after working hours on end to help load and fuel the four engine beast. Sheltair at Lakeland Linder International Airport has been on my list of Sheltair bases to visit, and Sheltair made that happen. I was sent to Sheltair Lakeland to help out for a weekend, where I learned their operations as well as taught them how Sheltair Tampa operates. Sheltair Lakeland also helped host Sun N' Fun traffic, allowing Sheltair employees an upfront ramp view of the show! Sheltair has truly given me opportunities I would have never been given elsewhere. If you're ever given the opportunity to work at an FBO and you love a fun, fast paced work environment, take it! They're more than just a place for planes to park- you never know where it'll take you or the opportunities you'll be given! From eBlast, August 2021
Marilyn Gauthier, C.M. / Tampa International Airport / Senior Manager, General Aviation

"We tell our stories while hanging out in social settings or when we are hunkered down during a storm in the NOAA hangar at Sun ‘n Fun and don’t even realize how inspiring our story may be until someone asks you to share it with others.  You never know whose life you just might touch or inspire.  I always tell everyone, to seek out what you love, and the rest is history.  

My work ethic came from my father who taught me to how to work hard.  If it wasn’t for him pushing me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  Ultimately, I am successful because of hard work, determination, and lots of perseverance.  I grew up in a small country town in Ohio and spent a lot of time hanging out in the back yard watching the airplanes transitioning above my home.  I always wondered, “Where in the world is that plane going and how can I get on it?”  So, I decided I wanted to become a flight attendant when I turned 18, not realizing my father had different plans for me.  My father explained to me, I was “going to college”, and to “steer clear of Aviation because it’s a cyclical industry”.  

Taking the advice from my father, I decided to major in International Relations.  However, it turns out, International Relations was not for me.  So, I switched to International Business with a minor in Japanese.  I absolutely loved the Japanese language, thinking those two together might get me in those airplanes I watched growing up.  Turns out the International Business wasn’t for me either. So, I continued the Japanese and began just majoring in Business with a few classes in Communications.  Just about to give up all together, I was determined to figure out what I was going to do with my life.  I couldn’t get those airplanes out of my mind and decided to stop by the Aviation Departmentat The Ohio State University to see if there might be something for me.  I told the counselor that I wasn’t interested in becoming a pilot, but really wanted to be around airplanes.  With the classes I already had taken, he excitedly expressed that I could get a major in Aviation Management with a concentration in Business.

“Bingo!”, I said, “Sign me up!”  And that’s how I began my journey to Tampa International Airport.  My life completely changed after beginning my major in Aviation.  I finally found my niche and two weeks later I was working at The Ohio State University Airport (KOSU).  After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Aviation Management and a minor in Japanese, I landed my first career position at the Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU) in New Jersey.  I took the plunge and left for NJ with no place to live and barely $200 in my pocket. After two years of hands-on learning, I was eager to learn more.  In 1996, I found my way to a two-year temporary internship at Tampa International Airport.  During those two years, I had the opportunity to rotate in every department, gaining knowledge in Aviation Finance, Real Estate, Maintenance, Marketing, Parking & Ground Transportation, Procurement and, of course, General Aviation (my favorite)!   Two years later, I was promoted to a permanent position in the General Aviation (GA) Department managing the Operations & Maintenance for Peter O. Knight, Plant City, Tampa Executive Airports, and management of the General Aviation tenants at Tampa International Airport and remain in GA to this day.  

The journey has been amazing! I love the work we do and the connections we make to grow business relationships.  When you love the work you do, you find the determination and perseverance to continue through the challenges put in front of you.  Tampa International Airport is engaging, innovative and transforms to meet the customer’s needs and the needs of the employees.  I feel so fortunate to have found my home here."

From eBlast, June 2022

Marilyn Gauthier

Marilyn Gauthier, C.M. / Tampa International Airport / Senior Manager, General Aviation "We tell our stories while hanging out in social settings or when we are hunkered down during a storm in the NOAA hangar at Sun ‘n Fun and don’t even realize how inspiring our story may be until someone asks you to share it with others. You never know whose life you just might touch or inspire. I always tell everyone, to seek out what you love, and the rest is history. My work ethic came from my father who taught me to how to work hard. If it wasn’t for him pushing me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Ultimately, I am successful because of hard work, determination, and lots of perseverance. I grew up in a small country town in Ohio and spent a lot of time hanging out in the back yard watching the airplanes transitioning above my home. I always wondered, “Where in the world is that plane going and how can I get on it?” So, I decided I wanted to become a flight attendant when I turned 18, not realizing my father had different plans for me. My father explained to me, I was “going to college”, and to “steer clear of Aviation because it’s a cyclical industry”. Taking the advice from my father, I decided to major in International Relations. However, it turns out, International Relations was not for me. So, I switched to International Business with a minor in Japanese. I absolutely loved the Japanese language, thinking those two together might get me in those airplanes I watched growing up. Turns out the International Business wasn’t for me either. So, I continued the Japanese and began just majoring in Business with a few classes in Communications. Just about to give up all together, I was determined to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I couldn’t get those airplanes out of my mind and decided to stop by the Aviation Departmentat The Ohio State University to see if there might be something for me. I told the counselor that I wasn’t interested in becoming a pilot, but really wanted to be around airplanes. With the classes I already had taken, he excitedly expressed that I could get a major in Aviation Management with a concentration in Business. “Bingo!”, I said, “Sign me up!” And that’s how I began my journey to Tampa International Airport. My life completely changed after beginning my major in Aviation. I finally found my niche and two weeks later I was working at The Ohio State University Airport (KOSU). After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Aviation Management and a minor in Japanese, I landed my first career position at the Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU) in New Jersey. I took the plunge and left for NJ with no place to live and barely $200 in my pocket. After two years of hands-on learning, I was eager to learn more. In 1996, I found my way to a two-year temporary internship at Tampa International Airport. During those two years, I had the opportunity to rotate in every department, gaining knowledge in Aviation Finance, Real Estate, Maintenance, Marketing, Parking & Ground Transportation, Procurement and, of course, General Aviation (my favorite)! Two years later, I was promoted to a permanent position in the General Aviation (GA) Department managing the Operations & Maintenance for Peter O. Knight, Plant City, Tampa Executive Airports, and management of the General Aviation tenants at Tampa International Airport and remain in GA to this day. The journey has been amazing! I love the work we do and the connections we make to grow business relationships. When you love the work you do, you find the determination and perseverance to continue through the challenges put in front of you. Tampa International Airport is engaging, innovative and transforms to meet the customer’s needs and the needs of the employees. I feel so fortunate to have found my home here." From eBlast, June 2022
This month, I’m writing about myself. It occurred to me that I have been trying to get our members to share their stories but was, for some reason, too humble to share my own. How can I expect others to follow if I don’t lead by my own example?

What my own story will express is how there is no one defined path to the destination of your goal. When I was in high school in the early 80’s all I knew was that I was going to leave that small Wisconsin town and that I wanted to travel the world. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Soon enough high school graduation approached and I was somehow supposed to pick a career. Guidance counselors had nothing better than accounting to offer as a good fit for me. I tried that and hated it. One day a postcard from a small central Florida school called Southeastern Academy arrived in the mail. They offered travel industry training, including basic SABRE, hotel, car rental, cruise line booking and industry knowledge. It sounded like a good way to do some traveling so I signed up and completed the course. Sometime during this time I was quoted as saying “I’d never really want to be a flight attendant”.

So I launched myself into the work of travel agent which led me to Germany where I worked for American Airlines at SATO (Scheduled Airlines Ticket Office) Ramstein Air Force Base. This is where I experienced my first military airshow. It is still my favorite style of airshow. I spoke with the crews at the static displays and they answered all sorts of questions. Many of these men and women visited me at SATO to schedule their flights home.

After 4 years, it was time to return to the States and finish college, which I did, attaining a degree in German with Business Administration minor. Then I became a flight attendant for American Trans Air. Never say never. During my early times with ATA, I was quoted as saying “I’d never want to be an airline Captain, that’s too much responsibility.” It was one day over the Indian Ocean on a B-757 that I went “up front” to check on the crew and saw the most spectacular towering cumulonimbus clouds ever in my life. I had been taking private pilot lessons by this time but this cemented my desire to make flying a career. Plus, the money is way better up front than in the back! I was 32 at the time and still traveling!

That's what got me on the path to my eventual goal: Jet Captain by age 40! Again, never say never! With complete commitment, determination, love and support of my family and friends, along with the motto “failure is not an option,” I achieved that goal in spring of 2005 with Airtran Airways when I upgraded on the B-717. Today I fly left seat on all of Southwest Airlines’ B-737s.

Two of the best decisions I have ever made were moving to Germany and learning to fly. When opportunities present themselves, always ask yourself “how will I make this the best possible experience?” then GO FOR IT!

At this point, the sun is beginning to set on my amazing career and I’m looking forward to more of the rewarding experiences I’ve had since becoming a member/officer with Women in Aviation International, Tampa Bay Chapter.

By sharing our stories we are able to inspire others to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be.
We would love to hear how you are reaching your goals. Please send your story to me at waitampabay@gmail.com
Thank you!
Yvonne Wibben
Captain, B-737, Southwest Airlines
WAI-Tampa Bay Chapter, Secretary

From eBlast, May 2022

Yvonne Wibben

This month, I’m writing about myself. It occurred to me that I have been trying to get our members to share their stories but was, for some reason, too humble to share my own. How can I expect others to follow if I don’t lead by my own example? What my own story will express is how there is no one defined path to the destination of your goal. When I was in high school in the early 80’s all I knew was that I was going to leave that small Wisconsin town and that I wanted to travel the world. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Soon enough high school graduation approached and I was somehow supposed to pick a career. Guidance counselors had nothing better than accounting to offer as a good fit for me. I tried that and hated it. One day a postcard from a small central Florida school called Southeastern Academy arrived in the mail. They offered travel industry training, including basic SABRE, hotel, car rental, cruise line booking and industry knowledge. It sounded like a good way to do some traveling so I signed up and completed the course. Sometime during this time I was quoted as saying “I’d never really want to be a flight attendant”. So I launched myself into the work of travel agent which led me to Germany where I worked for American Airlines at SATO (Scheduled Airlines Ticket Office) Ramstein Air Force Base. This is where I experienced my first military airshow. It is still my favorite style of airshow. I spoke with the crews at the static displays and they answered all sorts of questions. Many of these men and women visited me at SATO to schedule their flights home. After 4 years, it was time to return to the States and finish college, which I did, attaining a degree in German with Business Administration minor. Then I became a flight attendant for American Trans Air. Never say never. During my early times with ATA, I was quoted as saying “I’d never want to be an airline Captain, that’s too much responsibility.” It was one day over the Indian Ocean on a B-757 that I went “up front” to check on the crew and saw the most spectacular towering cumulonimbus clouds ever in my life. I had been taking private pilot lessons by this time but this cemented my desire to make flying a career. Plus, the money is way better up front than in the back! I was 32 at the time and still traveling! That's what got me on the path to my eventual goal: Jet Captain by age 40! Again, never say never! With complete commitment, determination, love and support of my family and friends, along with the motto “failure is not an option,” I achieved that goal in spring of 2005 with Airtran Airways when I upgraded on the B-717. Today I fly left seat on all of Southwest Airlines’ B-737s. Two of the best decisions I have ever made were moving to Germany and learning to fly. When opportunities present themselves, always ask yourself “how will I make this the best possible experience?” then GO FOR IT! At this point, the sun is beginning to set on my amazing career and I’m looking forward to more of the rewarding experiences I’ve had since becoming a member/officer with Women in Aviation International, Tampa Bay Chapter. By sharing our stories we are able to inspire others to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be. We would love to hear how you are reaching your goals. Please send your story to me at waitampabay@gmail.com Thank you! Yvonne Wibben Captain, B-737, Southwest Airlines WAI-Tampa Bay Chapter, Secretary From eBlast, May 2022
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