Sarah Trantow, U.S. Army Veteran, Helicopter Pilot, is Grabbing Her Helicopter Career
In pursuit of her helicopter career, Sarah Trantow just earned her instrument rating in helicopters – no doubt the most difficult of ratings during your helicopter flight school training. A U.S. Army Veteran of five years, she didn’t choose a career flying helicopters until doing her research about what kind of job should she pursue in the Army. “I asked people in the online forums what kind of job I should pick and a lot of the guys told me I should fly helicopters. THAT’S when I became fascinated. ME? Fly helicopters? I looked into it and started getting excited, but I wanted to get a feel for the Army first, so I became a mechanic, intending to become a flight warrant later in my career. Every time a bird flew over, though, I got excited and told the person with me (for possibly the 20th time) that I would fly one of those some day,” says Trantow.
Utilizing the GI Bill At Yavapai College
During her service in the Army, Trantow decided to utilize her GI Bill benefits to acquire a college degree and helicopter pilot certificate and ratings. She found online that Guidance Aviation was a part of the Yavapai College Aviation Technology Degree Program, through which graduates earn both their Associate of Applied Science degree (AAS), Aviation Technology – Helicopter Pilot Opearations, while also earning all the Ratings and Certificates necessary to become career helicopter pilots (CFI-I). In April, 2015, Trantow earned her Instrument Rating.
Making Your Whole Life About Helicopters is Key
“The amount of time (and effort) that’s put into classes, flight events, and studying is pretty challenging. Especially if you have other classes to worry about. You really need to make your whole life about helicopters in order to be successful so there’s little room for anything else. The great thing about Guidance Aviation is that you can ask anyone around you a question and they’ll try to help you understand it. Everyone wants you to succeed,” remarks Trantow. “I just think about how boring it must be to fly an airplane. Usually the job you get is working for a company like Delta or United flying people or things around, and all you get to see for the whole flight is the top of clouds. What fun is that? I like being closer to the ground and the ability to maneuver around the terrain. The ability to land, pretty much, where ever you want is pretty cool too. Funny story, my Dad was bragging to some people at work after I earned my pilot certificate. He told them I was a real helicopter pilot, and the response he got was “Oh…but does she fly airplanes?!”. I guess the general public just doesn’t realize how much cooler (and harder to fly) helicopters are.”
Real World Challenges Make for Good Memories and Great Pilots
“My instructor, Nick Buller, CFI-I, had me fly out to Crown King to land on a helipad right on the side of the highway in the mountains. It was a little nerve racking because the mountainous terrain made it hard to judge my distance and height above the pad, but Nick talked me through it and I landed right between the highway and a hill, with steep drop-offs all around. It was pretty cool,” recalls Trantow.
Go Get It
Born and raised in Wausau, Wisconsin, Trantow credits her parents as having significant influence on her life choices. “Early in life they taught me that anything I wanted I had to get for myself. They also never told me, or implied, that I had to play by gender specific rules. I’ve always been a bit of a Tomboy and always had jobs or hobbies that made me a woman “in a man’s world”. I never felt out of place or like I was a minority. I’m just here getting my training like everyone else. I think too many girls out there don’t even think about becoming a pilot, especially a helicopter pilot, because it’s not something that’s suggested as a possible career for women,” says Trantow.
Make the Young Daredevils Aware of Their Career Choices
“Helicopter pilots are just a little spec in the world of aviation. Female helicopter pilots make up a tiny fraction of that. I think this is because, when we’re little, adults talk about how you may grow up to be a doctor, lawyer, or teacher. How often does anyone talk about the more exciting careers like diver, pilot, or high tension wire worker? I think we need to make those young daredevils out there aware of all the other exciting career choices. That’s why I like the fact that Guidance Aviation works with the Girl Scouts and other young people to show them that there are other opportunities outside what is mainstream. I’m actually a brand new member of the Whirly-Girls International, so I’m more than willing to help any way that I can,” concludes Trantow.
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