The following remarks were delivered at our recent Aviation Dreams Gala on November 12, 2016. Three young people whose lives intersected at Hiller Aviation Museum—participating in and delivering programs—spoke to an audience of Museum supporters about their experience. Installment 3 of 3. Thank you for your support of Aviation Dreams!
I feel like I have been pursuing my aviation career since the late 1990s when I told my kindergarten class I was going to fly a spaceship and be a pilot like my dad.
During middle school and high school, there were many times when my peers would tell me that women aren’t pilots. Women are flight attendants or they work the ticket counters, but they aren’t pilots, I was told. Unfortunately, statements like these can be a deterrent to young girls who want to enter STEM fields like aviation. To be honest, I didn’t let these opinions phase me, because, if my dad can fly a plane and a helicopter, why couldn’t I?
After I graduated high school, I began attending my dream school, Embry – Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. I had never wanted to go anywhere so much in my life. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for a short while, and when I had to leave due to financial reasons, I was absolutely devastated.
For a while, I set my aviation ambitions aside and focused on other interests. I went back home to Southern California and pursued teaching and music. However, even after getting three Associate Degrees, I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to be a pilot. With that in mind, I packed my bags and headed off to study Aviation Operations at San Jose State University. My move to the Bay Area also signaled my arrival at Hiller Aviation Museum.
I am eternally grateful for how Hiller Aviation Museum allowed me to grow as a young professional. Starting at as an Assistant, an Instructor, Assistant Camp Director, and this fall as a Program Manager, I know that my experience at Hiller has given me more opportunity than I could have ever dreamed of. I also came to realize that my father, who is a retired army helicopter Vietnam pilot, flew Hiller helicopters during his training. For me, that is an amazing connection in and of itself.
I’d like to share with you just a few of the many things I have learned at Hiller Aviation Museum.
First, everyone learns differently. When trying to explain concepts like aerodynamics and how things fly, it is good to know how to explain something more than one way. Hiller Aviation Museum has increased my knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math. In return, I am able to impart that knowledge to visitors and program participants no matter their age or learning style.
Second, adventure rules. You have probably taken the time to read some of the history of the early aviators, and their whole life was an adventure! If you were an early pioneer of aviation you may not have even lived long enough to see your aircraft sustain flight. Being at Hiller has encouraged me to find my own sense of adventure in aviation and to be creative and innovative when looking at some the more relevant issues our aviation communities face, such as noise abatement, air traffic congestion, airport safety, general aviation airport closures, proper integration of UAVs, etc.
Third, aviation is a real world wide web. It allows us to travel to new places and it fosters relationships impacting business, family, and friends. It is a network of airlines, airports, air traffic controllers, and organizations that link the major cities and small communities of the world, 24 hours a day with very advanced aircraft. With this in mind, my personal aviation goal is to further the cause of aviation in all of its branches and to instill in the public mind a confidence in aviation and in the aviation industry.
This May I will graduate college with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Operations. While I have been in school, I have immersed myself in the aviation industry by getting involved with different SJSU organizations, internships, volunteerism, and all the while increasing my aviation knowledge with my experience at Hiller Aviation Museum. Once I have finished my private pilot license, I will continue to get my ratings and gain the further pilot training and experience needed to one day be a medevac, search and rescue pilot, and later on a missionary pilot.
My name is Michelle Tripp, and I’m a future helicopter pilot. Thank you for supporting Hiller Aviation Museum and its STEM education programs.
Michelle recently became the Education Program Manager at Hiller Aviation Museum. When not completing her degree in Aviation Operations at San Jose State University, Michelle is developing and overseeing the Museum’s public programs and special visitor activities that incorporate science, engineering, and technology, particularly involving the Museum’s Invention Lab and Drone Plex on the weekends.
Visit www.hiller.org/donate to make a gift today and help inspire the next generation of aviators.