Aviation instructor beats the odds

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Dr. Mavis Green, instructor in the Aviation Science Dept., beams with pride after winning the AAU’s William Wheatley Award. Jake Buntjer/UVU Review

For the first time in 13 years, a woman has won the University Aviation Association’s prestigious William A. Wheatley Award. Dr. Mavis Green of the Aviation Science department, became only the fourth woman in 55 years to win the award.

Green won the award at the UAA Fall Education Conference Awards Banquet Oct. 7. The Wheatley Award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to aerospace education for more than 10 years.

Why is there such a disparity, 51 to four, between male and female winners? It is in large part due to the fact that there are significantly fewer female pilots? In December of 2007, American Airlines said that of the 115,000 U.S. commercial pilots, only 7,100 were female, just over 6 percent. It took until 1975 for a woman to be hired as a pilot by an airline.

Green explained one of the reasons for this difference.

“If you’re heading for an airline job, it’s quite difficult on family life,” she said. “Airline pilots might be gone for a week or two at a time and their schedules may be changing. So that could be one factor.”

Women in aviation are definitely in the minority, which can make it difficult to succeed.

“It’s hard to operate in any group as a minority,” Green said. But she also offered encouragement. “Stick with it. Even though it’s tough, just keep at it, and you’ll get there.”

Although Green is a part of a minority in the aviation field, she hasn’t let that stop her. She is a woman of many honors. She earned a doctorate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and then returned to school at Harvard University where she earned an MPA.

In 2000, she earned the Larson Award from the UAA for excellence in teaching aviation. She is also a certified airline transport pilot, and has received recognition from the Federal Aviation Administration as a Gold Seal flight instructor.

Recently, the UVU Center for Ethics recognized her success in aviation and supported her work establishing avenues for aviation education in developing countries. Green served as the president of the UAA during the 2001-02 term.

In a press release, David NewMyer, aviation department chair at Southern Illinois University and former president of the UAA, was quoted as saying, “I’ve known [Green] for a while, and she’s certainly been involved in collegiate aviation. She is especially involved at a leadership level … and [Green] has been a leader in research and an excellent teacher. The service that she provides to UAA in many capacities is absolutely outstanding.”