Today we’d like to introduce you to Claire Schindler.
Hi Claire, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ for four years while pursuing my degree in Aeronautical Science. I was a part of the Women in Aviation (WAI) chapter there and we did a lot of volunteer activities to include participating in Sky Kids in Scottsdale, AZ. Sky Kids is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that offers children with special needs and disabilities free flights in a general aviation airplane to give them confidence and self-esteem. The day is filled with music, food, dress-up characters and crafts and of course, flights. When the kids come back from their flight, they walk the red carpet, sign our thank you banner and receive a certificate of flight. I absolutely fell in love with the joy of kids throughout the day and finding something to share my passion for flight.
Flash forward a few years and my college friends and I are all graduated and settled into our jobs as corporate pilots and we decide it would be a great idea to bring Sky Kids to our state of California. Sky Kids has been successfully running in Arizona for 10 years now so we sought the help of Bill Antonucci, founder of Sky Kids.
We had our first event at Chino airport in 2019 with 45 families participating and while we would have loved to continue in 2020 and 2021, we postponed for covid. October 15th, 2022 will be our next Chino event.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been difficult to balance the care and organization this event really needs while flying full-time around the world and working from afar. We also struggle to find sponsors for our event as we are so new to the area and are fairly young in our careers to network to find sponsors. I’m very grateful to have a very supportive board and a team that I can lean on when things get hectic and the aviation community has proven once again that they are one of the most caring and welcoming communities I’ve ever known.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I started flying when I was 16 in Northern Virginia. I soloed at 17 and earned my private pilot’s license at 18, right before I went off to college at Embry-Riddle in Arizona. I earned the rest of my ratings and degrees there before going to my first flying job at Chalk2 LLC. There I flew as a chase pilot in Cessnas, Mooneys and a Piper Comanche as a contractor for General Atomics, the US Army and Air National Guard flying in formation with Predator and Reaper MQ9 UAVs that were in testing or training. After earning my hours I went to my dream job of being a corporate pilot for a private charter company. I started with Planet Nine Private Air in 2018 on the Falcon 7X and I now fly a Global Express for them doing international charter. I am incredibly lucky to have reached my dream job at such a young age and I can’t wait to share my experience and knowledge with those that come after me wishing to pursue such a career.
What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I think the industry will continue to massively grow over the next 5-10 years. The demand for pilots is only growing more dire and I believe that covid has shown a great opening for private charter industry due to its ability to catering specific to clients, as well as ease of travel.
As for Sky Kids, I believe the event will only continue to grow. Despite not being able to put on the event for the past two years, I have already received phone calls and emails from parents months ahead of the event asking when they can register for the event. Sky Kids started in Arizona in 2012 and has grown to have 100 kids at their event with a Congressional Recognition for its support in the community and I am very excited to drive this event and expand it as much as possible to help these children.
- Sky Kids is free to all
- We run as a 501(c)(3) so we’re always looking for sponsors
- Sponsors receive free advertisement on our banner, flyer, social media and website
- Volunteer pilots receive a fuel discount and Hobbs time is tax deductible
- Website: www.skykidsusa.org
- Instagram: sky.kids.ca
- Facebook: Sky Kids