In the few short years I was able to spend with him, Grandpa Roy probably had the most profound impact on my life. As a lifelong Auburn fan, there was never any doubt where I was going to college, especially since I had absolutely no idea what career path to take. Auburn University was the only place I sent in an application and by October 2006, I knew I would be moving to Auburn in August 2007. Stories of my granddad and his airplanes, not to mention the airport named after him, always fascinated me, and through many fateful twists and turns in my college education, I graduated as a licensed pilot from Auburn University with a B.S. in Business Administration, Professional Flight Management with a minor in Supply Chain Management.
I am currently a Program Manager with the Alabama Department of Transportation Aeronautics Bureau. My job description can vary day-to-day, but my main job is to ensure the safety of general aviation airports throughout the State of Alabama by performing airport safety inspections or by managing federal and state airport improvement project grants. I work closely with airports, their sponsors, the FAA, and airport engineers. I also assist in the management of a state-owned airport and I fly a small multi-engine aircraft for the Aeronautics Bureau. I’m the first (and only) female pilot and aeronautics program manager for the State of Alabama.
Though several people have influenced me, my grandfather, unknowingly, had the most profound impact. I strive be the example to someone else that my Grandfather was for me and to empower the next generation of women aviators and Auburn women.
Weeks ago, I found an old polaroid (from early 1990s) of my Grandpa Roy and me; it was most likely one of the last photos that he and I took together before he passed away. I barely knew him as he passed away when I was a child, but he was and has always been my hero. As an eight year old standing by his side in that picture and later by his graveside, I never would have guessed at the impact his life would have on mine. Born in 1911, he was just out of infancy when news of the Titanic sinking shocked the world and was a a rambunctious three-year-old when the First World War began. He somehow began his college career during the early part of the 1930s at Alabama Polytechnic Institute to pursue Electrical Engineering. As family lore has it, he breezed through all of his engineering classes. He lacked one course to graduate: world literature. For whatever reason, he decided he didn’t need that class, left college without receiving his diploma, and became the only electrician in a family of foresters. In the 1940s he met and married my grandmother at the beginning of WWII. Though he was nearing the age limit, he was drafted into the War as the equivalent of an aircraft avionics technician for the Army Air Corp and served in the Pacific Arena. After the war, he returned to his family and life in rural Alabama, but not without his new-found passion for aviation. He also renewed his love for all-things API. After receiving his pilot’s license he and his best friend, a retired USMC aviator, flew to KAUO for almost every home game the Tigers played! There’s a good chance he took me to my first Auburn game and its probably a good bet that he taught me the importance of “war eagle”!