coUrage in nUMBers
in addition to writing for Aviation for Women, I also serve as
WAI’s publicist—writing news releases and finding ways to
increase the visibility of WAI within the aviation community.
We distribute news releases to the media all year long, but especially prior to the annu-
al Conference to drum up excitement and enthusiasm and encourage wider attendance.
And so it was that I recently found myself writing one such
news release announcing that Jessica Cox has signed on to be
a speaker at this year’s Conference, and I was given information about her in order to write a detailed news release. Have
you heard of her? Try page 24 if you haven’t. She is the first
person with no arms to become a pilot flying the airplane using no adaptive equipment (
other than a seat cushion, but she’s
only 5' 1" tall).
It’s impossible to read about
Jessica without being in awe
of her accomplishments. When
I went to her web site (www.
rightfooted.com), I learned
more about Jessica, including
the fact that she is a black belt in
tae kwon-do. While I was there,
the word “courage” popped up
from the screen at me and it got
me thinking about that.
Two weeks later, I was writing
another WAI news release, this
one about the women who will
be inducted into the 2009 Pioneer Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees are as impressive as any
others, and as I put the release
together, even though I know
that all of these women had accomplished great things, one
woman in particular stood out
That’s the story of Anna Ye-gorova, who is one of the most famous Soviet women to fly in
a male combat regiment during World War II. She was shot
down by anti-aircraft guns in August 1944, badly injured and
imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. At the end of the
war, rather than being treated like a hero, she was considered
a traitor for having been a prisoner of war.
As I was telling a friend of mine about Anna, I asked, “Can
you imagine being injured and in a prison camp?” Without
thinking, she replied, “I can’t even handle being sick in a hotel room.” She had simply blurted out the comment, not trying
to be funny or disrespectful, but it reminded both of us about
just how safe our lives usually are.
I was thinking about courage and how most of us will never be tested with a major physical challenge or be called on to
survive the rigors of a prison
camp while injured. In a way,
though, I thought it’s unfair to
think these are the only women who demonstrate courage as
I believe all of us are required to
show what I call everyday courage. This is the courage it takes
to ask for a raise, go on an interview, or reach out for help.
We’ve all had days, facing
some ominous event, where it
took courage to even get out of
bed and face the day. Some of
us have to single-handedly deal
with the medical problems of
aging parents or tackle a project at work where we feel imminently unqualified. What’s
more, it takes courage to apologize and to forgive.
For me, one of the benefits of
attending the Women in Aviation Conference is to have my
tank of everyday courage replen-
ished. It’s nearly impossible to attend a Conference, hear the
stirring stories of women such as Jessica Cox and Anna Yego-rova and not feel empowered yourself. It’s nearly impossible to
be amongst thousands of enthusiastic women who, although
you may not know their individual stories, have overcome
many obstacles, large and small, to be at the Conference.
You may come away from the WAI Conference with some