Category Archives: Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Recipient Profiles

Abigail Dang

Abigail Dang is a 19-year-old Certified Flight Instructor working at Barber’s Point Flight School and a junior at Liberty University Online. Even though no one in her family is a pilot, her lifelong goal from a young age was to fly airplanes, so, with the generous support from mentors and scholarships, she soloed on her 16th birthday and earned her Private Pilot License on her 17th birthday before she got her driver’s license! Abigail is a passionate, driven, and dedicated woman. In the first half of 2021 alone, she earned three pilot certificates: Commercial Single-Engine and Multi-Engine, and Certified Flight Instructor. She frequently volunteers in her local and aviation communities, serving with the Aloha Chapter 99s as a volunteer pilot and as Secretary for two years and volunteering at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. Her goals are to join the Hawaii Air National Guard as a C-17 Globemaster pilot and ultimately become a captain at a major airline. With the gracious scholarship from AAUW, Abigail plans to continue developing her pilot skills by pursuing her Instrument Flight Instructor and Multi-Engine Instructor certificates and using her knowledge and skills to support and create opportunities for girls and women in aviation while also pursuing her passion of educating, supporting, and inspiring Deaf youth in the field of aviation.

Tifany Flemmings

Tifany Flemmings is an aerospace engineering graduate who is making her dreams of flight a reality.

Read how the Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship is making that dream a reality. She’s not only furthering the representation of women in aviation, but in STEM as well!

I am a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where I studied Aerospace Engineering. Working as an engineer can be very stressful at times, but it is always rewarding knowing that I am a contributor to the safe and efficient transportation of passengers every day. However, nothing feels better than getting in a Cessna and flying around the Hawaiian Islands in my free time. I am truly blessed to be able to pursue my love of flying in such a beautiful place, one that I have called home for the last several years. Outside of work and flying, I have the privilege of volunteering with the amazing Aloha chapter of the 99s and the awesome Hawaii 5-0 chapter of Women in Aviation, International.

It was an incredible honor receiving the 2020 AAUW Tweet Coleman Aviation scholarship! The scholarship afforded me the opportunity to complete all the requirements to be endorsed for my instrument rating checkride. Along the way, I encountered so many challenges. Covid-19, unfortunately, impacted the lives of my instructors, which lead to delays in initially getting a CFII and forced me to change instructors two times during my instrument training. The usual weather and maintenance setbacks also played a role in delays in my training. Throughout it all, I was able to quickly regroup and flight train with minimal breaks once I overcame these challenges and that was truly due to the Tweet Coleman Scholarship. The scholarship allowed me to just focus on getting proficient and to fly as much as possible until the instruments and IFR procedures became a natural part of my pilot skills. I plan to complete my checkride to obtain my instrument rating by the end of March 2021.

My ultimate goal is to become a test pilot to test and certify new airplane designs and improvements to aviation technology. In the interim, I want to pursue becoming a volunteer for search and rescue here in Hawaii and continue mentoring female aviators and engineers. I want to thank the AAUW Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship committee for this amazing gift that helped me progress in my flight training exponentially during these unforeseen and difficult times.

Caitlin Basilio

Caitlin Basilio has dreamed of becoming a pilot since she was a child but never believed a small-town-island girl could make being a pilot her career.

Her aviation journey began in 2019 while she was living in Seattle, WA. Caitlin was born and raised in Mililani and graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. in 2014 with her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and rhetoric and media studies, working in journalism and marketing.

As a recipient of the 2020 AAUW Honolulu Tweet Coleman Aviation scholarship, Caitlin was able to complete her Private Pilot License in August 2020 and is now working on her Instrument rating. The pandemic led to her switching gears as she now works as a high school math teacher. This newfound passion for teaching excites her for when she one day obtains her Certified Flight Instructor rating and can share her passion for flying with student pilots!

Nobi Buntin

A member of AAUW Honolulu since 2018, Nobi Buntin worked on the AAUW Scholarship Interview Committee to interview candidates for our 2019 academic scholarships. Tweet Coleman, namesake of the aviation scholarship,  appointed Nobi to serve on the 2020 Aviation Scholarship Committee.

She is also chair-elect of the Aloha Ninety-Nines Ninety-Nines. Nobi credits her inspiration to get involved in the aviation community in Hawaii with attending a Talk Story Tuesday event in July 2018. She said, “Learning how Tweet Coleman has been a trailblazer for women pilots over the years was incredibly inspirational.”

Nobi is currently in Las Vegas for flight raining. The comment she sent with the photo was “I completed my initial Commercial Multi-Engine checkride two hours ago! My next goal is to obtain a Commercial Single-Engine Add-on!”

She added, “I am now navigating my way towards becoming a Medical Evacuation Pilot. According to my flight plan, the ETA towards meeting the Medical Evacuation First Officer requirements is three years from now. Since earning my Instrument Rating, I am working full throttle to acquire my Commercial Multi-Engine Pilot Certificate, my MEI and CFI licenses.
With an unprecedented demand for MEI and AMEL pilots in Hawaii, I intend to specialize in instructing ME students. I am currently volunteering at a local flight school and they have formally offered me a teaching position once I have I obtained an MEI. Since teaching comes second nature and is extremely rewarding, I am eager to utilize my previous bilingual teaching experience to flight instruct the local and international community. This approach will serve as a jet bridge to build hours while I navigate my way towards my ultimate dream of becoming a professional Medical Evacuation Pilot.”

Update 12/1/2019:

Janet Morse, Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Chair, recently sat down with Nobi for a question and answer session about how the scholarship has helped her.

What got you into aviation?
Becoming a pilot was a childhood dream. However, I was always told it would never become reality due to the high cost of training. After my intro flight in 2015, I was addicted to flying. Determined to find a path, with the help from countless foundations and organizations awarding scholarships, my dream began to slowly unravel and become reality.

Where are you in you training?
I completed my Commercial Multi-Engine Certificate in June 2019, followed by Pilatus PC-12NG training at FlightSaftey International in Denver, CO. I am currently working on my Certified Flight Instructor Certificate which will enable me to utilize my extensive teaching experience.

What did you achieve by being awarded the Tweet Coleman Scholarship? How did it help you?
Being awarded the AAUW Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship allowed me to propel towards my goal of becoming an Air Ambulance Pilot. The Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship enabled me to receive the absolutely priceless opportunity to receive over 40 hours of in-depth Ground School from a flight instructor who is considered a legend and has the utmost respect in Hawaii.

What are your short and long term goals?
I am in my senior year at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, working on my BS in Aeronautical Science. If everything goes as planned, I will graduate in Spring 2021.
My long term goal is to become an Air Ambulance Pilot in Hawaii to pay back society. I believe this would be the most honorable career while fulfilling my craving of giving and nurturing others.

How do you give back to the community
I have always got a pleasure out of paying forward. It’s a hobby of mine, in a way. Standing at the helm of the Ninety-Nines Aloha Chapter, being the Treasurer for Women in Aviation Hawaii 50 Chapter, and sitting on the AAUW Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Committee, etc…I find all to be extremely rewarding. Mentoring the future generation, watching them achieve their goals, offering guidance to the various committees, gives me extreme satisfaction. It’s invigorating to watch mentees win scholarships, pass exams & checkrides, watching their “wings grow” and careers take-off.

What’s your advice for the next generation of women aviators?
When you choose to chase the wonders that aviation has to offer, you must accept and embrace the fact that the odds are against you. Training is ridiculously expensive and time consuming, comprehending and understanding the material is challenging, the “boys club” mentality, and if you are a pilot – it’s a constant battle with Mother Nature! Aviation is designed for folks with a diehard mentality!

With that being said, take time to enjoy the ride. Aviation is an extremely deep subject, it cannot be mastered hastily. Never stop learning, but most importantly never stop sharing your knowledge and experiences! There is no need for competitiveness. There are countless paths and room for each and everyone of us to have a successful career.

What’s your advice for future scholarship applicants?
Get involved! Attend meetings, events, volunteer and most importantly surround yourself with honest-loving people who will not only celebrate your achievements but also act as a pillar when you face obstacles and setbacks. Nobody is immune to disappointments in aviation. Your inner voice is usually your worst critic. If you run in to anybody who brags about never having setbacks – run and don’t look back! Everybody in aviation needs a support group!

Treat your application with respect it’s as if you are applying for a job at a Fortune 100 corporation. Have a goal and design a strategic plan to achieve it. Anticipate unexpected delays, begin preparing your application package far in advance and submit early.

Leslie Caubble

Leslie Caubble and her husband host the Fly Maui aviation podcast where they promote general aviation and share inspiring pilot interviews.

She is active in the Aloha Chapter of the 99s and a volunteer with Girl Scout STEM events, and aviation days on Maui. Through the 99s and the Fly Maui podcast, she hopes to motivate other girls and women to follow their dreams and learn how to take the steps to reach their aviation goals.

Update 1/5/2020:

Janet Morse, Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Chair, recently sat down with Leslie for a question and answer session about how the scholarship has helped her.

What got you into aviation?
Learning to fly was something I wanted to do for a long time. My grandmother was my inspiration to dream big and become a pilot one day. It was the encouragement of my husband, who arranged my first discovery flight, to do something for myself and follow that dream. I’ve never looked back!

Where are you in you training?
I’m currently in training for my commercial certificate. As I’m practicing maneuvers, I’m also building my right seat flying skills in anticipation of becoming a CFI. My plan is to pass the commercial written exam within the month.

What did you achieve by being awarded the Tweet Coleman Scholarship? How did it help you?
Receiving the Tweet Coleman Scholarship was an incredible honor that came at just the right time. The scholarship amount was exactly what I needed to push through to the end of my instrument rating. I’m happy to say within 2 months of receiving the Tweet Scholarship, I was able to earn that instrument rating!

What are your short- and long-term goals?
My short term goal is to finish the commercial training then immediately move into CFI study and training. Maui has a huge need for passionate flight instructors. Many potential students at our flight school have to wait on their training because we don’t have enough CFIs. I want to become part of the solution! My long term goal is to complete the multi-engine commercial and multi-engine instructor. I’d also like to fly part time for Mokulele, flying people around our beautiful state.

How do you give back to the community?
Involvement in the aviation community is very important to me. We recently formed a new Maui Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, and I was elected Vice Chair. Through the 99s, I help present in Girl Scouts STEM events, Maui aviation days, organize meetings and socials, and mentor some of our new student pilots. I also volunteer my time as social media admin for our Chapter, as well as my former Aloha and Memphis Chapters. I co-host an aviation podcast called “Fly Maui” and use that platform to promote general aviation, share my flight training journey, and encourage other pilots to reach their flying goals. I also enjoy flying puppy rescue missions in Hawaii and volunteering with my golden retriever therapy dog with Caring K9s Maui.

Your advice for future applicants?
My biggest piece of advice for future applicants is to find something that you love to do that gives back to your community. Do it with excellence, and do it often. Everyone has that “special something” that is unique in their aviation journey. Don’t be ashamed to share it with others. You never know who you might inspire to get into flying or be a safer pilot through your story. Weave these things into your essay and interview. Even student pilots have so much to offer!

Elizabeth L’Heureux

Not only is Elizabeth L’Heureux passionate about flying, she’s also a philosophy major and a nationally certified massage therapist.

She’s served as the Aloha Ninety-Nines vice-chair and is a charter member of the Ninety-Nines Maui chapter In her spare time, she spreads the word about flying at STEM days, Girl Scout Days, fly-ins, scholarship application reviews, writing recommendation letters and mentoring — and she’s also founded an Aviation Lending Library on Maui.

“I have a dream, a goal, a plan and the tenacity to become a Certified Flight Instructor,” Elizabeth said. “I earned my Airplane Single-Engine Land Pilot Certificate on November 11, 2016 and my Airplane Instrument rating on March 21, 2019. I will be a commercially-rated pilot within a few months! My five-year plan is to obtain a glider rating, seaplane rating, complete my tailwheel endorsement and become a CFII. My long-term dream is to be a Hawaii-based pilot, while offering instruction, guidance, mentoring to aviation enthusiasts and pursuing my professional aviation career.”

A Q-and-A with Our 2013 Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Recipient, Sarah Hudgins

How has your career progressed since you received the aviation scholarship?

I was awarded the AAUW Aviation Scholarship to earn my Commercial license in 2013. The commercial license is required to receive any compensation as a pilot. I passed my commercial check ride in November 2014 and got a lucky break a week later. A friend called to ask if I wanted to be his co-pilot ferrying a Cessna Caravan C208EX from the mainland to Hawai’i. The single-engine, turboprop flight California to Honolulu took 14.5 hours. Turned out that we were delivering the plane for Mokulele. I applied there and gently persisted until I finally spoke to HR from my brother’s basement on Christmas Eve. I started as a First Officer with Mokulele in February 2015 based in Kahului for the first two months then got back home to HNL. After about a year I went through upgrade training and flew for them as Captain another year. I’d already been flying around the islands for years, but now I was being paid for it! It was a wonderful job, but the time came to make a jump to bigger aircraft. After the process of interviewing and training, I began flying for Envoy, owned by American Airlines, in the 65-seat CRJ-700 made by Bombardier based at O’hare. I just recently completed the training to upgrade on the same jet and am now Captain Hudgins once again. The Aviation scholarship was the catalyst to all this progress. It was key in keeping me moving forward, staying motivated and removing some of the financial burden that comes with advancing in this industry.

Have you seen more women pilots since you began your career?

This is a tricky question to answer. I SEE more women pilots. But, overall, there aren’t any more women pilots relative to male pilots. According to the FAA Airman statistics, the number of women pilots , including student pilots, has remained between six to seven percent for the past 20 years. This includes student pilots, recreational pilots and sport pilots as well as professional pilots. The good news is that among the women who do hold a certificate, more of them are becoming professional pilots. The percentages of women who hold their Air Transport License (ATP), required to fly for an airline, has seen a steady increase over the last ten years. This tells us that of women who hold a license, more of them are choosing to pursue flying as a career rather than a hobby. And they are going for the top rungs of the ladder. So I’m seeing more women on the message boards and Facebook groups who are interested in wearing the airline uniform and taking leadership positions.

What would you tell any girl or woman in college who’s thinking about getting into the aviation industry?

First, it is essential to connect and build a network of other women pilots. Support will surprise you at times, other times you will find the need to share an experience with someone else who understands your path in a male dominate industry. Find your people and hold them close. Second, you will encounter inequity. It will come at you subtly and blatantly. Consider how to respond, what to let slide, and when to speak up. This is a small world and a conservative industry. Always be professional and keep on your path regardless of what hurdles others may try to put in your way. Finally, this is a rewarding and challenging path in so many ways. Be persistent. There will be bumps in the road. There will also be clear skies and perfect landings. Keep at it. Enjoy the view, and work hard, and celebrate your accomplishments. You can do it!

Meira Leonard

Meira’s grandfather flew in World War 2 and taught her older sister how to fly. From an early age she loved airports, planes, and everything to do with flying. She went to college, joined the Peace Corps and founded her own web web design business.

About two years ago, with her dream of becoming a pilot a distant memory, she visited an airshow at a small airport. Taking a discovery flight, her feelings about flying came flooding to the surface.

Learning to fly came with some obstacles. Meira says, “I was blown away with how much information and skill it required and gained a much deeper respect for pilots and what they go through.”

She created cheat sheets and visual aids and received so much positive feedback that she created a website BlondsInAviation.com to share these resources with others. While working on her instrument rating she joined AuxAir, a voluntary aviation group under the National Guard to patrol the local waters on search & rescue missions.

Meira added, “I love being able to help others, just like so many people have helped me.”

She hopes to become a commercial pilot and to see how her dream will take her.

Shaunna Gutina

Shaunna Gutina caught the flying bug long ago, dreaming of being a fighter pilot. At the time, many factors prevented her from entering the military — and many others discouraged her. However, three decades later, she resolved to fulfill her lifelong dream of flying no matter what the obstacles were.

Shaunna learned to fly through classes and lessons she paid for herself.  But flying is expensive and she saved every cent she could. It was not enough to consistently train, which is very important as a flight student. But she applied for and is the recipient of this year’s AAUW Honolulu’s Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship. She said it is an immense help in achieving her dream of being a pilot.

She also saw the scholarship as a way of inspiring other women and girls to take up an interest in aviation and STEM fields.

“This scholarship will help me pay it forward and therefore, the scholarship has a far greater value than its monetary value,” Shaunna wrote. “It will be the spark for others and hopefully, inspire them to fulfill their dreams no matter what obstacles stand in their way.”

As secretary of the Aloha Chapter Ninety-Nines, a female pilot association, Shaunna has created an aviation program for the Girl Scouts of Hawaii in cooperation with the Pacific Aviation Museum. Girl Scouts will be able to learn about flying while earning a badge for their work.

Ultimately, Shaunna hopes to fly for a commercial airline, a cargo carrier, or (because of her medical background) a medical transport organization.

“I want to encourage young ladies to never allow someone to tell them they can’t do something or that their dream is unrealistic or frivolous,” she said.

Sarah Hudgins

With the assistance of a Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship, Sarah earned her Commercial Airplane Single Engine Land Certificate in November 2014. Initially co-piloting planes across the Pacific, Sarah was eventually hired as Second-in-Command completing her flight-training with Mokulele Airlines, an interisland commuter in Hawaiʻi. She has since earned Captain status and continues to fly Cessna Caravans interisland. Sarah is also pursuing a Master’s Degree with a research focus on women in aviation. A lifelong volunteer, Sarah is a member of the American Association of University Women, Honolulu Chapter, and is a board member of Mālama Mānoa, a community organization whose mission it is to encourage diversity, community and environmental stewardship. She has also played an active role as Secretary and Chair on the Aloha Chapter 99s striving to expand membership and reach young women interested in aviation. Sarah has also volunteered to speak with young people on aviation at the Pacific Aviation Museum, with the Girl Scouts of America and at elementary schools.