Home Home Home About Us Home About Us About Us About Us /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html About Us About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html
Home About Us About Us /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html
About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html










Camps & Sports


Children’s Corner

Collected Features


Cover Stories

Distance Learning


Famous Interviews


Medical Update

Metro Beat

Movies & Theater


Music, Art & Dance

Special Education

Spotlight On Schools

Teachers of the Month


















New York City
August 2001

Flying High as a Pilot

Although she describes her interest in aviation as “just like the love fisherman have for boats,” Arlene Feldman’s path to her current position as Regional Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Eastern Region has taken determination, and perhaps not a little passion for airplanes and other flying machines.

“I love helicopters,” she says. “They have a lot more flexibility than fixed-wing aircraft. They can fly lower and land in places that fixed-wing planes cannot.” To get a license to fly helicopters or any aircraft involves a minimum of 40 flight hours, as well as tests and certification, although according to Feldman, “most people do not get their license within their minimum number of hours.”

She learned to fly at Wings Field Airport in Pennsylvania. In the ’50s, there were not many licensed women. “It was more a novelty,” Feldman recalls, when asked what instructors at Wings thought of her taking lessons. “Women were treated kind of differently.” Today, the situation for women pilots is “getting better, but it’s still not equal.”

Last year, only 36,757 of the 625,581 licensed pilots in the United States were women. Feldman partly attributes the predominance of male pilots to WWII and the Korean and Vietnam wars. “Many of our pilots who are now working in the airlines flew in these wars,” she explains. During WWII, women flew service planes, and while “many of them are still flying,” there were not nearly as many. Now, with military cutbacks and more training for women, there is an increase of women in the field.

Feldman herself is the first woman to hold her position, in which she oversees all of the “aviation activities” in seven eastern states, from New York to West Virginia. This is not a small task. “Here in New York we have some of the most complex airspace in the world,” she says. She credits hers and other women’s success in the field to the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of over 6,500 licensed women pilots that provides support and networking in the aviation industry. In 1931, Amelia Earhart was the first president of the group, named for the 99 charter members.

“A lot of the young women pilots credit the 99s for where they are,” says Feldman of the mentoring done by the 99s. “You always can use the advice and help of someone who’s been there.” As one of the first women in the executive division of the FAA, Feldman mostly has had to seek out the advice of men, whom she found extremely supportive.

Her own path started when her children were in high school and she decided to get a college education. “I always wanted to go back to school,” she says. She earned a BS in Political Science at the University of Colorado, where her professors urged her to apply to law school. “I was very interested in politics and how it works,” she explains.

While at Philadelphia’s James Basley Temple University School of Law, she discovered the field of aviation law. “It’s not a lot different from any other kind of law, except for the terminology involved,” she explains. Aviation lawyers deal with accident cases and negotiations for FAA violations.

She became the Director of Aviation for the state of New Jersey where she oversaw all the private airports in the state, which are not regulated by the FAA. From there, she was recruited by the FAA and made her way up to where she is today.

The bottom line in her work at the FAA has been safety. “Our real responsibility is one of safety,” she emphasizes, adding that aviation is one of the safest forms of transportation. Feldman is constantly implementing and testing new radar and tracking technology.

Feldman, an advisor to programs in three Philadelphia high schools, also has two classrooms in her Long Island building. “Aviation education has always been a part of what the FAA does,” she says. She encourages people to get interested not only in aviation, but in transportation in general. “What I tell students is they should look at all careers,” she says. The FAA is a division of the Department of Transportation, which also includes the Coast Guard, among others. She also points out that there are many careers within aviation, including not only pilots and mechanics, but accounting, airport design, facilities maintenance and public relations. #

There are many resources in libraries and online for careers in aviation. To start, visit the FAA website at www.faa.gov or the 99s at www.ninetey-nines.org.


Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.