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The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Young Aerospace Professional Pursues Flight Training, Inspires Women and Hispanic Americans to Embrace STEM Careers

By Carmelo Turdo
The Midwest Aviation community has a long legacy of high achievers, and the current generation continues to add their best and brightest to that total. The Aero Experience recently visited with one of the St. Louis area's new young aerospace professionals, Andrea Martinez, who is currently in the flight training program at Elite Aviation. She is not your typical student pilot, however. Martinez is an Aerodynamics Engineer at Boeing Research and Technology, a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a graduate engineering student at Purdue University. She has a long list of accomplishments, including internships at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Boeing's South Carolina facility, that would invite employment offers from anywhere in the country. Along with her impeccable academic record and professional experience, she also possesses a cheerful personality that projects a sincere desire to help others enter the aerospace field.

Andrea Martinez and 
CFI Luis Zelaya
Andrea Martinez is taking the time now to pursue flight training as another practical application of her education as she settles into her aerospace career at the nearby Boeing Company. "This engineering background that I have, I would like to apply it to something," she told The Aero Experience. "I want to feel how an airplane behaves and how it responds to pilot inputs. That's partly why I want to pursue my Private Pilot License." She feels strongly that being a pilot will enhance her effectiveness as an aerodynamics engineer.

Flying is also a fulfillment of her desire to connect cities and cultures through air travel. A native of Columbia, Martinez moved with her family to Florida when she was thirteen years old. "My passion for aerospace began at the age of thirteen when I started falling in love with airplanes and connecting cities around the world, connecting cultures," she noted.  A geography class sparked an interest in learning about other places and cultures, and the atlas became her favorite reference book. She frequented nearby Orlando International Airport, getting to know the flight schedules and routes. She also began researching the fundamentals of flight and made drawings of her discoveries. Attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was a natural choice for the aspiring aerospace engineer.

Now that she has begun her career in the aerospace industry and has entered flight training at Elite Aviation, she can apply her seemingly endless energy toward mentoring others who aspire to follow her example. "I want to be that role model that I wish I had in aviation when I was little," she added. "I want to be that role model for young girls and be a part of the STEM organizations around St. Louis that promote aviation outreach...I want to give back to the community and inspire all these young girls who are trying to achieve the dream of becoming an aerospace engineer, a pilot, an ATC controller, A and P mechanic or whatever it is in aviation." She also encourages members of the Hispanic community to seek out careers in aviation. "I am really interested in helping out the minority communities. So coming from an Hispanic background, I don't see a lot of Hispanics in this field. That would be very inspiring for me and very rewarding to touch somebody's life and change lives by saying a couple of words on how rewarding it is to be in the aviation industry."     

Andrea Martinez did a careful search for flight schools before making a commitment to begin her training. "When I was searching for a flight school, I wanted a school that was professional, that took aviation very seriously, and that knew what they were doing," she told The Aero Experience. She took test flights at several flight schools and settled on Elite Aviation. "When I came to Elite, I knew right away that this was going to be the right place for me. I was welcomed by John and Donna Tipton, they were very friendly and I appreciated that they took the time out of their busy day to meet with me at seven o'clock on a Tuesday to give me a tour of their hangar and flight line...Also the fact that John is a pilot is another great thing because he knows where we are and where we're coming from." She also added that Elite Aviation supports work-life balance for their students and encourages women in aviation, making her flight training experience very satisfying.    

The Aero Experience was invited to interview Andrea Martinez for this story, and a video of the interview and a training flight will be available in the near future. Here we feature coverage of a recent flight from Elite Aviation at Spirit of St. Louis Airport: 


The Aero Experience thanks Andrea Martinez, Luis Zelaya and Elite Aviation for their assistance in producing this story and the upcoming video.  

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