I’ve been inspired by all things aviation from day 1: Born and raised in Oshkosh, WI, home of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and site of EAA’s world renowned fly-in, AirVenture, the aviation exposure of the environment became my focus at a young age. From volunteering in and eventually teaching at EAA’s museum and living history airport and taking on any number of part-time jobs at the organization, I found a passion for aviation’s history and calling in the aerospace industry – especially the emerging commercial space industry – before graduating high school.
I went on to earn an A.B. Physics (2010) from The University of Chicago, which I followed with a year of service at a start-up school in Somaliland, East Africa (The Abaarso School). In addition to teaching science and math at the school, I began volunteering with the Somaliland Ministry of Aviation, discovering that my passion for aviation would follow me wherever I went. On completing my 1-year teaching contract for Abaarso Tech, I returned to the U.S. and, with scholarship support, earned my pilot’s license.
I then joined EAA full time, eventually becoming it’s B-17 Program Manager.
And that’s how I met Anne Marie. A dedicated volunteer with the B-17 program and one of the few women in its volunteer ranks, Anne Marie’s quick wit and business acumen stood out – the beginning of what would become a long and beautiful friendship. When I accepted the opportunity to join the new space industry – by joining The Spaceship Company (TSC) at their Mojave, CA facilities in 2013, Anne Marie was there to help me with the move and introduce me to life in L.A.
Grateful to have only ever held “dream jobs” in my career to date, I see my personal passions and commitments in life expressed through my work and personal pursuits in California. Accepting Anne Marie’s invitation to join her for the Air Race Classic 2015 is a natural extension of this. Exemplifying an adventurous lifestyle, women’s advancement in aviation, inspiring the next generation of female aviators, and considering air racing’s future are all part of my intentions for my role in this race. Recalling my early studies of aviatrixes and Air Race Classic history (has anyone read “Girls Can’t be Pilots by Margaret Rae Ringenberg?) I see this year’s race as a bridge from aviation’s past to its future. Stemming from the barnstorming years of aviation culminating in the first all-women’s cross country race in 1929 to the W.A.S.P. to members of the Mercury 13, I see this race as a meaningful tradition, a challenge to aviation skill, and a call for progress in the name of those who’ve pushed the boundaries of the past.
I’m honored to fly on Air Race Classic Team #24 “Team Flying Tigresses,” and am so grateful for and humbled by the support of thoughtful donors who are making this possible.
For details: I earned my private certificate in a Piper Cub in 2011, in Hartford, WI at CubAir Flight. I recently added a glider rating in 2014 after making the move to southern California where soaring is popular around the Sierra Nevadas. Learn more about what I’m up to at www.margaretviola.com .