Hi KEF students, I saw this in article in the Arctic Sounder and thought it would be nice to share with you! Keep up the good work in school and life. Summer is almost here!
“Barrow woman reaching lofty goals” by Cary Restino in the Arctic Sounder, 4/13/2012:
Most teenagers waffle a bit about what they want to be when they grow up. Not Heather Dingman. Choosing what do with her life was the easy part. Achieving her goals has been a bit more challenging.
Dingman, who is from Barrow, said a trip up in a helicopter when she was in school sealed the deal for her.
“It really hooked me into wanting to learn more about what it took to fly or be a pilot,” Dingman said.
More than a passing childhood fantasy, Dingman held onto the dream, and when her class was asked to explore a career at 16, she looked up the path she’d need to follow to become a helicopter pilot.
The next year, she tried to enlist in the Air National Guard, thinking that would be a good way to learn to fly. But a pre-existing heart condition kept her from being accepted. Far from being deterred, however, she enrolled at University of Alaska Fairbanks with a major of aviation technician. It was then that she realized how expensive her dream really was.
“I couldn’t afford the flight time,” Dingman said, adding that the cost of renting aircraft to get the required hours to become a pilot has a big price tag.
Instead of give up, however, Dingman majored in business, figuring it was a degree she could use to earn enough money to some day get back to flying. She found a job working for the North Slope Borough’s health department, and started saving. With her savings and scholarship funds, she was able refocus on her dream and get back to flying. After about a year, she achieved her first goal and in December, received her helicopter pilot’s license. Now, she’s attending instrument ground school so that she will be licensed to fly in instrument flight weather. After that, and a lot of hours in a rented helicopter, Dingman will be able to fly commercially.
Her ultimate goal would be to fly as helicopter pilot for the North Slope Borough, perhaps in the emergency services field.
Why not choose something a little less stressful, like flight-seeing tours?
“I guess I was inspired by my dad growing up,” said Dingman, whose father, Joe Dingman, is a captain and training officer with the North Slope Borough Fire Department. Heather Dingman said she learned the value of community service from him.
“I saw how important it is for the community to have people (respond),” Dingman said. “It would mean more to me and more to my community.”
Dingman said anyone who is similarly inspired should stick with it, despite the challenges would-be helicopter pilots face to be certified. While the path to becoming a commercial helicopter pilot is not easy, the same inspiration she felt on that first ride continues to drive her efforts.
“Being in a helicopter, the control you feel when flying one, feels amazing,” she said.