Local pilot inspires women to fly

Allison B. Hudson
Janet Gonzales received her pilot’s license last May and enjoys flying in her Cessna 150. Last Monday marked 100 years since the first woman became a licensed pilot.

Janet Gonzales, licensed pilot and manager of Louisiana Regional Airport celebrates 100 years since the first woman, Raymonde De Laroche, received her pilot’s license.

Last Monday marked 100 years since the first woman was granted a pilot’s license, and Gonzales is encouraging other women to follow in her footsteps.

Her Story

Gonzales started her work back in 1994 as a part-time secretary with the Louisiana Regional Airport in Gonzales.

“I never really had an interest in planes, I just tried earning a living,” she says.

After hearing talk of airplanes on a daily basis and gaining more responsibilities over the years, Gonzales decided to put her skills to the test.

“I decided that if I was going to do a good job for my customers, I should try to learn more about what my customers need,” she said.

Gonzales began the process of getting her license, and has now become fascinated with it.

Only six percent of women are licensed pilots.

She says that her entire household is learning how to fly. She reveals that the costs of obtaining a license can get expensive, but it’s well worth it.

“You can get your license and a plane for $20,000,” Gonzales said. “I looked around for a little bit, and I found my plane in Arkansas for $13,500.”

In excitement, Gonzales said that she loves her Cessna 150 airplane. “It has opened a lot of doors to other opportunities for me,” she states.

Gonzales recalled that her husband and her always dreamed of owning a recreational vehicle for camping and road trips, but she said God had another plan.

She showed pictures of how her dreams changed after obtaining her pilot’s license last May. She came to a page in a scrapbook that showed her and her husband’s first trip in the Cessna. They flew to a Texas airfield, and pitched a tent for camping. “It was fun, and exciting.”

Gonzales shows her excitement in her job, and has a love for flying.

She is a member of the 99s, which is an international organization of women pilots; she belongs to an experimental aircraft organization also.

She says the most important thing is to let women everywhere know that this is something we can do.

“It is not scary, you have to put your mind to it, and always be safe,” she says. “Its not rocket science, its easy and fun.”

Editor’s note: Gonzales took me out flying after teaching me all of the necessary precautions and safety measures. We journeyed around Gonzales, Donaldsonville and the Baton Rouge area. Gonzales also allowed me to maneuver the plane. It was a sight to see, and it was easy like she said. I thank her for allowing me the opportunity.

Gonzales always follows safety measures before, during, and after flying her Cessna.