Goodyear Adds First Female Blimp Pilot
8/4/2006 1:22:00 PM
Goodyear built its first airship in 1925. Since that time, Goodyear blimp pilots have sailed the skies throughout the world.
For over 81 years those "daring young men in their flying machines," have all been . . . men. Not anymore! Captain Martina Wegscheider received her wings on August 3, during a ceremony at the Goodyear blimp base in Carson, Calif. Following her FAA check flight, Wegscheider made Goodyear history by becoming its first female blimp pilot. During the ceremony Wegscheider was doused with a pail of confetti as she was presented her wings from Pilot-In-Charge John Crayton. Wegscheider compiled over 500 hours of LTA (lighter-than-air) instrument and multi-engine training over the course of her training.
Wegscheider was born in Vienna, Austria. Her love of flying began when she flew with her father as his "navigator." At 16, she became the youngest female in Austria to hold a glider license, and at 17, was one of the youngest Austrians to obtain a private license.
In 1997 Wegscheider moved to California to continue her flight training. According to Wegscheider, flight training in the United States was much more convenient and cost effective than in Europe. She had intended on earning her instrument, commercial single and multi-engine ratings in the U.S. and then move back to Austria. However, she fell in love with the California lifestyle and decided to stay.
After completing her flight training, Wegscheider flew commercially and worked for an airship manufacturing company based in the San Fernando Valley before applying for the job flying the Goodyear blimp. In her words, "who would have known, five years-ago, when I found my love of airships, I would achieve my dream job, flying the world famous Goodyear Blimp."
When not flying the Goodyear blimp, Wegscheider can be found riding her Kawasaki Ninja 500 motorcycle along the California coast.
Wegscheider will be stationed in Carson, Calif., the home of the Spirit of America airship where she will join Pilot-in Charge, John Crayton, Asst. Pilot-in-Charge, Jon Conrad and Senior Pilot Matthew St John.