Acknowledgements: Sarina Houston (

 (Ed. Note: A truly inspiring account from April 2018 of Sarina’s determination to fly, and thereafter to help others to do the same. Here at Aerobility, we have an aircraft with the UK registration G-UCAN... with the right application, so can you!)

“I recently won the Martha King Scholarship for Female Flight Instructors, courtesy of Women in Aviation, International .... Below is my scholarship essay. John and Martha King called me back in March to tell me that I’d won the scholarship, and I was ecstatic. But it didn’t end there. They also helped finance my trip to the Women in Aviation Conference in Reno this year – a conference I always love to go to, but this year was not going to be able to afford .... and it was totally worth it!!! 

I publish this not to brag but to offer my true feelings about my career, my “struggle” if you want to call it that, and my feelings toward passing on the support and mentorship that I’ve been so lucky to receive throughout my aviation career. 

But my struggle is probably no different from yours. It’s probably no different from anyone else’s. I don’t deserve to win a scholarship more than the next man or woman, so I’m humbled by the experience. So, here’s my essay. Hope you like it! 


Day in and day out, we all face unique challenges. Some of us have health challenges. Some of us have career challenges. Some of us have obstacles that just seem to arise no matter what. Me? I’ve had my share of challenges. I’m a flight instructor, which means I sometimes struggle financially. And I’m a single mom of two boys, which also adds to the financial struggle. I struggle to find time for myself, to find time for others, to find time to learn, to find time to grow.

But here’s the thing: I’m happy to struggle. It means I’m lucky enough to have something worth struggling for.

Am I deserving of a scholarship? I think so, but not because I’ve struggled more than the average person. I’m deserving because I can say with confidence that the award would not go to waste. It would benefit me, it would benefit my children, and it would benefit the pilots that I’m privileged to teach and mentor. I’m a doer. I work hard. I’m curious. And I’m up to the task of becoming a better pilot, setting a good example for my kids, and mentoring the next generation of pilots.

 Like many, I grew up in a challenging environment, but one rich in opportunity and where expectations of me were no different than from those of my older brother. My father was a farmer and my mother a teacher. My father inspired me to do things that I didn’t inherently know how to do, like drive a truck and build a fence. My mother taught me to think outside the box, to work hard, to dream big. Both of my parents taught me work ethic – that if I wanted something, I could have it … if I could work hard, be resourceful, and just go get it. Struggle was a thing my family just did. But they never let the struggle get to them.

 As a young girl, I struggled with confidence. But I was curious enough about flying to walk right through the struggle, and when I was 16, I held my breath, walked into my hometown airport, walked up to the manager and asked for a job. They gave me one. I asked if I could go flying. They let me. One day I asked my instructor if I could become a flight instructor. He said I could. I applied to Embry-Riddle and was accepted.

 I quickly realized I was in over my head financially. But then I got a scholarship. And I graduated. I left ERAU with a degree and my ratings, indebted to Sallie Mae, indebted to my scholarship donors, and indebted to many other people for the loads of support they showed me.

 It’s my goal now to become a person who can support others, to help those who come next. No matter what I’m doing – flight instructing, corporate flying, or airline flying - I want to be the best pilot I can be, the best mom I can be, the best mentor I can be. I want to encourage young women like me who struggle with confidence that they, too, can overcome their struggles.

 I will do more, learn more, and I will pass it on. I will become a better instructor, a better pilot, and a better mentor to those who are coming after me. I will struggle, but I will succeed. I want my kids, my students, and others around me to see that the struggle isn’t what matters –the journey is. And it’s absolutely, without-a-doubt, worth struggling for”


Tony Birth