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"Learning to fly has given me strength and confidence in all aspects of my life, and a sense of perseverance that I am so grateful for."

Anandi Heinrich



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Anandi HeinrichAnandi Heinrich

We are proud to announce that Anandi Heinrich of Santa Cruz was the winner of last year's Student Scholarship. She attended Santa Cruz High, Cabrillo Collage, UCSC, and The Southern California School of Floral Design. She started taking flying lessons at United Flight at the Watsonville Airport in the spring of 2000. She soloed August 14, 2000 and began working on solo flying and dual cross-country training. She is a full-time manager at Pacific Trading Company in Santa Cruz and hopes to "one day make a second career of flying and become a great pilot."

A bit about Anandi by Anandi....

When I was a little girl I used to love to fly. During my childhood the only time I flew was to go see my Grandparents in Southern California. I always loved the flying. I never remember being scared or anxious, I was always just thrilled. Looking back I'm not sure how much of the thrill was the flight and how much was seeing my Grandparents. As long as I can remember I've loved the feeling of flight, every bit. I might say that the take-off is my favorite, I think as a child it was not only the realization that I was truly "lifting off", on my way to a new adventure, but also the physical sensation of the plane and my body pressed to the back of the seat, and the gentle release of pressure as we flew higher and higher.

Window seats. It was always about window seats. It seems I always got to sit in one, and if I didn't, I wouldn't worry about bothering the person in that spot by leaning over them to get a glimpse of the world from up there. Touchdowns have always given me a sense of completion, even before I was learning to fly. I love the way the earth becomes clearer and clearer as I approach. I remember as a child, how amazing it was to see the number of swimming pools as we came into Ontario, CA. It was a secret glimpse into the world.

Back in those younger years, in the 70's & 80's, I thought what a great thing it would be to be a pilot. I asked around and what I learned was that you had to join the Air force, and most likely had to be a man to become a professional pilot. So, I thought I should be an airline stewardess. I wrote a story about my "career" as such in junior high, but after high school I got pulled in different directions, from Acting to Writing to Psychology. Life went on, as it always does, and I found myself living in Santa Cruz with my fiancé, and working with my family at our family's clothing stores.

The thrill of flying never diminished. I always found at least half the fun of travel to be the flights. It got to a point, in the last few years, where I'd love to go to the Airport, even if I wasn't going somewhere. My "becoming a pilot", started to be something that my family and friends would kid me about, and my sister began giving me and my fiancé airplane-related gifts. I guess I just resigned myself to the fact that I'd never become a pilot.

On January 8th last year, that all changed. It was what I can best describe as an epiphany. I was in a small plane, around 20 seats or so, and my fiancé and I were two of seven or so people in the plane. We were flying at a low altitude from Santa Fe to Denver, along the Rio Grande, and he and I kept changing our seats, to get different views of the amazing New Mexico landscape. It was all-of-the-sudden. I turned to Scott and told him I was going to become a Pilot. It didn't matter that I didn't know how, or where to begin, I just felt in that moment that I could do it and that I would. There was really very little thought involved.

Becoming a pilot has been harder and taken more time than I thought, but there is something that got a hold of me, that doesn't seem like it will ever let go. Learning to fly has given me strength and confidence in all aspects of my life, and a sense of perseverance that I am so grateful for. Much of my strength and perseverance I can attribute to the friends I have made in aviation, especially The 99's. The women of The 99's, from those I meet with every month to those I e-mail in our Section, and even other Sections, have supported me with "blind-faith" and kindness all along my way.

Now that I have won the FWP Scholarship I feel not only honored, and thankful, but inspired. I want to be a pilot to make my fellow 99's proud. I don't know where in the skies I'll fly, but I feel I'm flying in the right direction. The "fury of flight" has a hold on me and I'm along for the ride.

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