‘Little daredevils’: North Carolina women learn to fly and prepare for aviation careers

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – As pandemic-related restrictions continue to ease and demand increases in the aviation industry, the repercussions of the global shortage of airline pilots are becoming more evident.

A local women’s group wants to be part of the solution to this shortage while leaving its mark in a field largely dominated by men. According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration, only 7% of commercial pilots in 2020 were women.

Chloe Mattox, a 17-year-old student at Ayden-Grifton High School, is one of nine women currently taking flying lessons at Dillon’s Aviation, located at Pitt-Greenville Airport. Mattox typically flies about three times a week, and his long-term goal is to work as a pilot with FedEx.

How do Mattox’s friends react when they find out that his favorite extracurricular activity is aviation? We are daredevils and like to get out of our comfort zone.

Pilots in training come from a variety of backgrounds. Some discover a passion for flying at a young age, while others have waited until later in life to start taking lessons and exploring aviation as a new career path.

“I went to college, did that, then just did a 180 and tried to fly,” said Emily Osborne, another of the pilots in training. “Luckily everyone has been lovely and supportive.”

The impact they have as women in aviation is just another driving force behind the group.

“We’re seeing more and more women getting into aviation these days,” said Monica Mattox, Chloe’s mother. “I think you’re going to see this as a growing trend. I think it’s very exciting and I’m very proud of her.