I have long known the importance of having role models – “someone like me”. I don’t need to lecture on the need for black teachers, Latino police officers, women professionals, gay/lesbian politicians. But sometimes there is a reminder so special that I have to share. And because the lesson came at the hands of my granddaughter just makes it even more special – so indulge me here.
Amelia has been talking for several years about wanting to be a pilot. Two years ago her parents arranged for her to have a flight suit from the same place that military flight suits are made. It still fits, but she may outgrow it soon. What she hasn’t outgrown is the desire to be “a Blue Angels pilot”. This summer we had the opportunity to take her to see the British Royal Air Force Red Arrow team land at Dulles Airport.
Three jets and crews set up on the ground to meet with admiring kids and adults- some in red flight suits and some in blue. The crew in blue spent a lot of time looking over the planes, opening compartments, checking tires and making adjustments. The bonus for us was that one of the RAF crew was a woman who remained on the field and stayed available to a long line of young girls and boys for endless pictures and questions.
Amelia listened attentively to the pilots in red suits who talked about flying and discussed that the crew in blue flight suits were actually their engineers who were responsible for the mechanical well being of the aircraft. We talked with Amelia about it – that the pilots in blue did not actually fly the planes but were there to experience the flights and check on the planes.
So, school has now started and the first graders are writing books, All About Me. And lo and behold, when writing This is What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, Amelia draws a picture of a pilot in a blue flight suit and writes that she wants to be a “pilit engoner”.
And all I can say is, You Go Girl!