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An Inspired Girlfriend Getaway ~ Weekend Flying Workshop

Unleash your personal power

Ever wonder why women make up less than 6% of pilots? Linda Castner, airport owner and pilot, assumed it was fear of dying. She launched a research study (along with Sue Stafford, philosophy professor at Boston-based Simmons College) funded by the New Jersey Division of Aeronautics and Wolf Aviation Fund to prove her theory. Turns out, Castner's theory missed the mark.

Fear of looking foolish keeps women grounded more than any physical fear.

flight training workshopflight training workshopBased on their findings, Castner and Stafford created two customized weekend clinics: Women Take Flight and Leaders Take Flight. The intense workshops encourage participants who've never piloted a plane to experience flight from the pilot's seat.

Castner believes understanding how to use a compass, navigate based on limited maneuverability and manage outside forces while flying a plane are similar to charting a course through life. During the weekend workshop, participants explore how limiting behavior, response to challenges and in-the-moment decisions shape their lives. After lectures, group discussions and partner-based activities, they test out their new skills in two half-hour flying sessions.

Castner says experiences absorbed under the influence of adrenalin seem to be permanent.

Understanding and managing risk

leadership training for womenleadership training for womenAlmost everyone can relate to the threat of being devoured by a personal limitation, an obstacle, even just a plain old worry or regret. "What's so beautiful about the cockpit is that leaping into risk is one crystal clear moment," Stafford said. "You've prepared yourself well, you've taken the risk and when you push that throttle in, you do it by yourself or the plane goes nowhere."

Taking control is what makes this course different than other intensive leadership courses. Participants own the risks by sitting in the pilot seat and making the decision whether to fly or not.

"We can't get rid of their emotions, but we can give them techniques for managing them," Stafford said.

Chairing a meeting, putting ideas forth or heading a project can create a panic response similar to attempting a complicated aerial maneuver. First with classroom instruction, then in the plane, participants learn how to manage outside forces with logical, specific steps. Thinking clearly ensures the plane stays on course and in the sky.

"To be a successful manager you have to take risks, and when you do, your palms will be sweating and your heart will be pounding just like it is in the airplane," Stafford explains.

The sky's the limit

Women Take Flight flying workshopsWomen Take Flight flying workshopsMary Rabedeau was a participant in Women Take Flight. The retired chief of police and owner of Edcon Press in Cranford, New Jersey, says the workshop helped her recognize and take on more risks in her business and personal lives. "The clearest moment for me was when I banked left and overcompensated to correct it. The adrenalin got going and I worried about crashing for a moment, which was ridiculous considering I was sitting beside a flight instructor. This one experience is worth more than a thousand hours of training in a virtual situation."

Thrust gets a plane off the runway, while drag and slow flight act in direct opposition. But keeping the throttle fully open all the time doesn't allow a pilot to navigate a safe course back to the landing strip.

"A big lesson was that "slow flight" is not necessarily a bad thing," said Sue Fox, member of the Advisory Council for the Career and Life Planning Center in Flemington, NJ, and past participant in Women Take Flight. "I tend to jump head-first into things, but slowing down and figuring out where I am is a good thing."

At the start of the weekend, participants are paired off as flight partners. While one pilots the plane with a qualified flight instructor, the other rides in the backseat. How each person responds to challenges impacts the other, which makes for interesting discussions afterwards. Especially if one partner cannot conquer her fears and lands early or decides not to fly at all.

Before they leave for home, Castner and Stafford ask everyone to write a letter to their partner. "People say things to each other after they've bonded that a facilitator can't say," Castner said. "When you know you've met the challenge and that someone has helped you, it's like spending two years in a co-mentorship."

Want to learn more? Visit Leaders Take Flight online or contact them by phone: 908.735.0870.

Would you take a weekend flying workshop with your co-workers or friends? Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook - we'd love to hear your ideas!

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