Carole Cary-Hopson: Mentoring Eagle Flight Girls
The Pro 99s Network was formed out of a necessity to help furloughed women airline pilots following September 11th and has since grown into a first class avenue of networking and mentoring for all women pilots in their various stages of career advancement. Because of the number of women joining the ranks of professional pilots, mentoring and supporting each other has become even more vital in many women's careers.
Carole Cary-Hopson of the Ambassador Chapter exemplifies what mentoring is all about. In her own pilot career, Carole is a flight instructor being mentored by some of the industry's finest, including Jenny Beatty of American Airlines, Captain Becky Howell of Southwest Airlines, and Captain June Viviano of Fedex Express. Carole is 'paying it forward' by mentoring young girls in the Eagle Flight Squadron in East Orange, New Jersey. Carole describes the girls as what many would consider "at risk" kids. They deal with adversity on a daily basis and walk through mean streets just to get to Eagle Flight, which is a converted fire station that serves as their weekly outpost.
"In their green flight suits and spit shined patent leather shoes, they command attention and by degrees, they've begun to earn the respect of their peers," says Carole. One of her mentees travels to her flight lessons by two buses and a train, then ends up in a shopping mall parking lot, where Carole picks her up for the rest of the trip to the airport -- just because she wants to fly so badly. Of her role, Carole remarks, "These girls are all very special. They are scared and full of youthful bravado all at once. I feel like I am part flight instructor, part Mom, part big sister, and part old-fashioned school marm. These girls are smart, they just need a chance."
Carole goes on to say, "The funny thing is that although they all look up to me, I think I am the greatest benefactor. I have often been reenergized by their passion. I have grown to really understand the strength and tenacity of young women who crave knowledge and want it so badly that they claw and work and grab it. I am proud of them. I love my girls and think the world of them."
Carole's dedication to young people is extended by her role as mother. Carole and her husband Michael live with their sons Joshua and Cole in Montclair, New Jersey.