Spreading her wings | SierraSun.com

Spreading her wings

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

Jason Kelley/Sierra SunMeg Lent does a preflight check before she takes her aircraft out of the hangar at the Truckee Tahoe Airport on Monday. Lent is the first recipient of the On Madine's Wings scholarship.

Meg Lent has been flying high since learning she will be the first recipient of an On Madine’s Wings scholarship that will give her the opportunity to further her training as a pilot.

“It’s such a grand prize,” Lent said. “It’s a nice thing to dream about.”

The Truckee resident thought the odds were against her when she filled out the application in February, thinking “not in a million years” would she receive the aviation scholarship for women worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Lent got the good news on July 19 that she would be moving to Orange County to train at John Wayne Airport. She will be making the move to Southern California in just three weeks.

“On Madine’s Wings” is a volunteer foundation named after pilot and flight instructor, Madine Pulaski, who was one of the founders of the Orange County chapter of the Ninety-Nines. Amelia Earhart started the international pilot organization in 1929 to provide education and scholarship opportunities for female pilots.

Lent will receive an all expenses paid “Dream of Flight” scholarship in a rigorous year-long program where she will receive the training to obtain her private pilot license, commercial license, instrument rating, certified flight instructor license, and certified flight instructor instrument license.

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She will also get the chance to fly Madine’s Beech Bonanza A36, her personal plane.

While Lent was living in Maine about a year ago, she had a boss who owned a sea plane at the resort she worked for. After a few flights on the plane Lent said she wanted to learn how to fly.

She began taking lessons and completed her first solo flight after six weeks of training.

“That’s probably the most exciting,” Lent said of that memorable flight, with no instructors looking over her shoulder and no one there to read the maps but her.

She moved to Truckee after spending all her money. Lent said her flight instructor told her “Don’t worry about the money Meg. Go back to California.”

Currently Lent balances her job at Faulkner Architects with flying lessons at Todd Aero, located at the Truckee Tahoe Airport.

“I’m flying about four days a week,” she said.

Todd Aero flight instructor Tom Meadows has been giving Lent lessons a little over a month, accumulating 35 hours in dual and solo flights. He said she has been preparing to take her check ride, which “is like your final exam” given by an examiner from the Federal Aviation Administration, to receive her private pilot’s license.

“She’s wonderful,” Meadows said about her aviation scholarship. “I just get really excited.”

Last Saturday she made her first “round robin” flight, from Truckee to Lovelock, Nev., to Beckwourth, Calif., and back to town in three hours. Lent said she practiced landing at each airport.

“There’s Pyramid Lake, that’s good …” she said, about how she stayed on track reading the map as she flew.

On Monday afternoon Lent squeezed in two hours of lessons in between her work schedule, she said.

Lent said she wants to stay involved in “On Madine’s Wings” foundation, volunteering when she can.

Besides the scholarship program, the foundation relocates pets as part of the Humane Environmental Animal Rescue and Transport program, provides computer and technology services to developing nations in cargo and passenger aircraft in the Connecting the World program, and offers memorial overflights, according to the Web site, http://www.madine.org.

The Reno High Sierra Chapter of the Ninety-Nines has been supportive of her endeavors, she said.

Lent said she would like to work for summer camps once she’s completed her training in Orange County.

“My dream would be to own my own (sea) plane,” Lent said.

According to the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots (http://www.ninety-nines.org/), only 6 percent of U.S. pilots are women. There are similar imbalances for other minorities or economically disadvantaged people throughout the world.

The Ninety-Nines’ got their namesake from the first 99 licensed women pilots involved with the aviation organization. The Web site offers an aviation history about female pilots as well as careers, scholarships, and networking.