As we discuss sabotaging your healthy eating (ep 5) and how to train your brain (ep 6), join Cindy as she learns how to fly a plane with the staff at Great Barrington Airport. Check out her time with Pilot and Instructor Peggy Loeffler. Peggy is the daughter of a WWII Army Air Corps B-29 pilot. After the war, when she was very young, her father purchased a small plane, and that was Peggy’s introduction to a lifetime of aviation adventures.
During most of their flights together, Peggy’s dad would tug on her seat belt, and they would begin a series of lazy maneuvers in the sky. To her delight, not matched by her 10-year-old girlfriends, they did loops, rolls and spins. As Peggy grew older, she continued to spend many hours aloft with her dad.
In high school, Peggy enrolled in an aerodynamics class during her senior year, with 16 boys. After the first class, the instructor called her to his desk and attempted to discourage Peggy. He informed her that Peggy was to expect no special treatment because she was the only girl, and if Peggy took the class because she thought it would be easy, she would be very disappointed. Peggy finished the course with an A+ and also set the school record for duration of flight for her hand-crafted balsa-wood glider.
Peggy didn’t pursue a pilot’s license though, until many years after that high school class. With a private pilot license in hand, and scholarship assistance from the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots (99s), she added instrument, commercial and instructor ratings. In 2005, Peggy began working at Great Barrington Airport in western Massachusetts. As the only female instructor at the small but active airport, she certainly stands out! Peggy realizes, though, that she serve as a role model to the women, young and old, who approach her for training.
While serving as Chairman of the Connecticut Chapter 99s, and later, as Governor of the New England Section 99s, Peggy participated in panel discussions and aviation workshops before groups as large as 200 girl scouts at the New England Air Museum, and co-founded a special event at the museum that ran annually for ten years, celebrating women in aviation, past and present, attracting hundreds of people each year.
Besides serving as Chief Flight Instructor at Berkshire Aviation, Peggy is also co-coordinator of an aviation class at a Massachusetts high school. Each spring, approximately 10 high school juniors and seniors come to her for an introduction to flight training. Peggy’s colleague teaching the ground school portion of the class encourages girls to participate in his classes (how times have changed since my school days!).
Peggy has had so many wonderful flights, but she would have to say that it’s exciting each time she brings someone up for their very first ride in a small plane. If someone has a desire to fly, she simply suggests that they go up with Peggy for one or two flights. By that time they’re hooked! If someone sets priorities in their life (time, finances), becoming a pilot can, most of the time, be possible. As a flight instructor, she helps people achieve their dream of flying!