March is Women’s History Month and to celebrate, One Plane Jane ran a contest to recognize women that are making history now. We received many outstanding nominations and we are excited to announce that the grand prize winner of a 1-year subscription to ForeFlight is Allyssa VanMeter. Allyssa received four nominations – congratulations!
We spent some time chatting with Allyssa about her inspirations and love of flying. Check out the interview below.
Tell us about you – the basics and the fun stuff. What makes you tick?
I am Allyssa, as you know! I am 29, from Central Illinois, raised in the small town of White Hall. I am a hair stylist of ten years and opened my own salon, Meraki Hair & Nails, with my friend and business partner, Manda, in September 2017. I became a private pilot in November 2017, training in IJX (Jacksonville, IL). I try to volunteer when I can and have been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters as a Big, a coach for Girls on the Run, donating free haircuts for Share the Love Events, Mission of Mercy helping with dental sanitation, and a Honduras Hope Mission building homes, amongst many other things.
I love to ride my bike with my team, Team Waldo! I love to cook and I am a vegetarian of six years! I feel like the busier I am, the better. I have two dogs, a cat, and 13 chickens (for eggs)! I tried a garden…weeds happened! I LOVE coffee! Piolet fueled by coffee for sure! I love adventure and traveling! I have a bucket list about five miles long and try to mark things off my list on a regular basis.
It looks like you are a pilot, own your own business, volunteer, and find time to take care of your loved ones. We want to know more about that…the good, the bad, and the ugly… but mostly the good.
I talked about a lot of this above, but having my own salon and being self-employed means good and bad. Good: I have the flexibility to travel and enjoy life. Bad: I work a lot of hours, Monday through Saturday, 8AM to 8PM most days. Sometimes I wonder why I put in so many hard hours on my feet, but I look at my calendar and I’m amazed at where my life has taken me and where I’m going. It’s truly limitless!
I try to work out four to give times a week…airplanes need less weight in them (for clothes and shoes, of course)! Sometimes this doesn’t leave a lot of home time, which makes it hard. I have a great support system at home: friends, family, and clients, which makes everything I do possible! Sometimes I wonder where my energy even comes from, besides coffee…
What is your biggest accomplishment?
It’s really hard to just pinpoint something. I’m very proud of where I am in life and how I’ve gotten to this point! My biggest accomplishment is just being exactly who I want to be and knowing I can do anything I put my mind to! It’s the most powerful and fulfilling feeling in the world! I wish ten years ago I could have seen all the opportunity in life!
Your life looks very busy. What do you do for fun?
Bike, fly, and eat…pizza and tacos will keep this girl happy!
What is your favorite quote?
“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” – Amelia Earhart
This is so true!
What is a belief or behavior that has changed your life?
Happiness! Wake up in the morning and find what you are grateful for! Stop dreaming of material things and create the life you dream of!
What would you put on a billboard?
SMILES! They are contagious! Happy people make me incredibly happy! Make someone smile and laugh. It’s the most amazing thing!
How long have you been flying? What do you remember from your first solo flight?
I started in May 2017 with a friend taking me out for a quick flight in a 150…or so I thought, three hours later! I loved it so much and started instruction the next week! I proceeded to go two to three times a week before work and finished my Private License in November! My first solo… holy Charlie Romeo Alpha Papa!!! My instructor, Brandon, gave me no warning! We went out like normal, just some pattern work, 4/5 landings and he told me to park it on a T. It had only been like 30 minutes and I wanted to fly as long as possible and really learn! We go inside and he tells me to pull out my logbook, and BOOM! It’s go time! So crazy, right?! It was the most exhilarating day of my life! Taking off, sure, I can do it alone, but landing alone…holy moly! I remember thinking, can he talk me through it if I forget? Can he hear me? Will he help? What if I forget? What if I can’t?! Well, needless to say, I survived! I was so proud of myself! I CAN FLY! The best part was calling my family and telling them I did my first solo. They didn’t understand that solo meant solo! My mom thought I had called her that morning before the lesson because I knew I would be doing it and wanted to make sure I had said I loved her in case something happened. I’d had no idea!
Do you fly for fun or professionally?
I received my private pilot license in November 2017 after six months of training at Jacksonville Municipal Airport (IJX) and hope to continue my journey, slowly but surely, to become a commercial pilot! I love learning anything new in aviation and I’m always looking for an opportunity to fly. I’m really hoping through the Ninety-Nines I can meet and connect with women aviators around the world!
Did you receive any scholarships to become a pilot? Are you a part of any organizations that help women become pilots?
I really had no friends or family involved in aviation, so really, I’m just learning about all of the opportunities that are out there. I recently joined the Ninety-Nines to become more involved and learn from other female aviators! I would really love to get more young girls into a plane and just show them that the sky is the limit! I wouldn’t be a pilot today if it weren’t for a family friend who took me up for the first time and showed me how easy it could be!
What help, if any, did you receive in starting your own business? Tell us about your business!
I became a hairstylist ten years ago this May! I have really loved the journey in becoming what I am today! My clients truly are my best friends and literally a family! I think it’s every hairstylist’s dream to have their own salon. I, on the other hand, really never wanted the stress and to be tied down. I saw what it took to keep things running and it didn’t really appeal to me. Then there was a day I became unhappy in the environment I was in. I don’t like to be stressed or unhappy – life is just too short! So, my friend and coworker of nine years, Manda, started looking and kind of entertaining the idea. It seemed too easy almost and things fell into place way faster than I really wanted them to. Life is such a roller coaster, but you choose to be on it or stand watching in awe of the amazing twists and turns life throws!
What advice would you give to a young woman who is interested in a traditionally male-dominant industry?
Know you’re strong! Stand tall and believe in yourself! I have always been involved in male-dominant activities, it seems like, partly because I have two older brothers and I’m very close with my dad! Wrestling in high school, cycling, aviation…know you can do anything you set your mind to! Growing up in Girl Scouts taught me so much and I know Gail, our leader, would be so proud of who I have become!
What is the one thing you miss the most when traveling?
My dogs! Trixie, a Frenchie, and Dottie, a Pug, have been with me through a lot! I always feel loved coming home to them! Hopefully when I become an aircraft owner, I’ll be able to take them on some adventures!
Where will your next adventure take you – what is your next adventure?
I love to travel… a lot! It’s really the thing I live for and aviation has helped me to get away even more! I have a lot coming up, as I’ll be turning 30 this summer, and I’m all about knocking things off my bucket list! Sun n’ Fun in Florida is first up! I’m so excited to see my first air show…yes, I have never been! My friend and mentor, Donnie, will be flying the Bonanza down, camping, exploring Florida, and letting me tag along! I look forward to seeing the Ninety-Nines and One Plane Jane, of course! I just love cloth and inspirational aviation things. It really opens that door with people who may be curious! Bring on the heat!
I’ll be in Alaska in May, running the Golden Nugget Triathlon in Anchorage – an all-women event for all abilities! This will be my first, again…bucket list! Hopefully I’ll meet up with some pilots and take a few flights around Alaska as well!
In July I’ll be headed to Ireland with my best friend to celebrate our 30th birthdays together! She lives in Florida and being a part is very hard sometimes, so we try to plan trips to explore together!
Cycle Greater Yellowstone bicycle ride is in August with Team Waldo and cruising in the fall with my other best friend, Nick, who works as an entertainer for Carnival! I know it’s a lot, but life can be cut way too short and I want to live in the now! Any opportunity to travel, I am there! Come join me!
What motivates you?
My parents! I have never seen someone so proud as my dad when he tells people I am a pilot! It’s the most wonderful feeling! He is ready for me to purchase an airplane and be able to take him to weekend fly-ins! The real reason I added this question…my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2016. One mastectomy, one year of treatment, and a lot of tears…my mom is cancer free! Life isn’t always promised and we have to really love those around us while we can! She is my “why.” He is my “why.” Making them proud and making myself proud.