Women in Corporate Aviation will be presenting a $2,000 career scholarship today to student pilot Stacy Booker at a ceremony hosted by WCA and Southeast Regional Schedulers and Dispatchers.
Booker serves as secretary of WCA and leads the Mississippi chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an organization of female pilots that was founded in 1929 by 99 female aviators, including Amelia Earhart. Booker was one of more than 30 applicants for the biannual scholarship and plans to use the money toward her instrument rating.
Booker has been flying for more than three years, but a series of misfortunes, including suffering a twisted ankle just before her check ride and the recent back-to-back hurricanes that slammed the Gulf Coast, kept her from obtaining her private pilot’s certificate sooner. “Every obstacle has come my way. It’s been a nightmare,” she said. “Through it all, what helped me was being involved with groups such as the Ninety-Nines and WCA. The ladies brought me under their wings and helped me keep going.” Booker recalls reading a Ninety-Nines forum post in which a senior member urged a student pilot to ‘think of us and imagine us on the sideline, cheering you on. I keep that in mind. It’s so inspirational,’ she said.
Booker, 43, works for the Mississippi government in the IT field but hopes to one day join a corporate flight department. “My heart is with corporate aviation,” she said, although she added that her first introduction to aviation was aboard a Continental Airlines flight when she was 12 years old. “Ever since that first flight, I’ve loved airplanes. They fascinate and intrigue me,” she said. Her five-year goal includes obtaining a multi-engine, commercial, CFII, ATP and a type rating so she can begin working for a corporate flight department.
WCA president Cassandra Shelby said Booker’s enthusiasm and dedication to aviation were among the main reasons she was selected for the award. Shelby noted a comment in Booker’s winning scholarship essay that helped solidify the judges’ decision. Booker wrote, “I long for my office to be at FL350 instead of sitting in an enclosed building.” Booker said, “I have always stopped dead in my tracks and gazed up at aircraft flying overhead in awe. My lifelong dream to fly has become my reality.”
Booker’s volunteer work with the Ninety-Nines and WCA also impressed the scholarship judges, Shelby said. “The scholarship is not just about you,” Shelby explained. “The money is for you, but we want you to give back to the aviation community in the future. It’s about your attitude toward self and others.”
Booker is “really active” in the aviation community, Shelby said, in spite of holding a full-time job and facing many challenges along the way. “Stacy does so much
volunteer work, it’s incredible,” Shelby said. “It’s like another full time job. And she’s very involved with helping others. She’s already mentoring others even though she’s new to aviation. That’s really what made her stand out.”
The scholarship presentation will be held during the “Get Refreshed” social event today from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Representatives from NBAA and the Georgia Business Aviation Association will be at the event, which will feature refreshments, chair and foot massages, as well as gift bags to all attendees.
The WCA scholarship is open to anyone. Applicants do not have to be a member of WCA to apply.