A passion for flight and travel has Columbia High School senior Gillian Woods (pictured at right) headed to Central Washington University to take part in the Professional Pilot Program.
CWU has been the regional leader in professional aviation education since 1975 and offers the only fully accredited public university aviation program in the entire Pacific Northwest.
The Enterprise sat down with Woods to learn more about the program and where her passion for flight first took hold.
Why did you choose CWU’s program?
Gillian Woods: I mainly chose CWU because it was more cost effective, but I also like that it is close by. I was originally interested in Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University, but the cost was too much.
How long have you wanted to be a pilot?
Woods: I’ve always loved flying on airplanes, big or small, I originally wanted to be a flight attendant. When I was in 7th grade a family friend took me flying in his plane and gave me a little lesson in how to fly. From that moment on I decided I wanted to be the one flying the plane, not just along for the ride.
Did you consider joining the military to learn to fly?
Woods: I did for quite a while. I planned on joining the Air Force. But after talking to recruiters, I found out that in the military there were no guarantees that I could be a pilot. I also figured out that the military lifestyle is not for me.
Do you want to just fly commercial planes or are there other types of aviation you are interested in?
Woods: Ideally, I want to fly commercial planes. CWU has a relationship with Horizon Air/Alaska Airlines and in your Junior/Senior year you can learn to fly and intern with them. I’m excited about that.
When you are done flying around the world do you think you will return to White Salmon?
Woods: To visit for sure. To live, probably not, I don’t want to have to commute that far to the airport every day. But I would like to bring my future family back to show them where I grew up and everything.