Our Women´s History Month series, ¨Pilots are Leaders,¨ continues with Anna Rusinowski, often recognized as Pilot Annie. Annie is a pilot in Canada, working on her commercial license and giving back to her community! Here is her story!
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Annie, and I’m a Private pilot out of Collingwood, Ontario. I started flying 6 years ago after living abroad and being inspired by bush pilots in Australia. Traveling has always been my passion; my father was an adventurous man and his enthusiasm for taking the path less traveled rubbed off on me. I devote a lot of my free time to supporting organizations like The Ninety-Nines, The Northern Lights Aero Foundation, and Hope Air. My hope is that I may inspire others through my journey, particularly women, and become a mentor one day.
Which came first, for you, the airplane or the adventure?
Adventure, as a young girl I craved the unknown and decided to move abroad on my own. I lived in New Zealand for a year where I worked as a zip-lining guide and took every opportunity to jump off everything I could, Canyon swings, bungee jumps, cliff jumps, you name it. I then moved to West Australia where I found my passion for diving and swam alongside manta rays, sharks and other creatures of the deep. It was in Australia that I was inspired to pursue my pilots license so I suppose you could say that adventure led me to aviation.
Tell us about your flight path to this date.
My flight path has been irregular, challenging, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. After completing my PPL in 2014 I flew for fun for 5 years before deciding to pursue aviation as a career. Since then I’ve been working toward my commercial license which I hope to complete this spring. Winter in Canada means a lot of cancellations and I’ve had to remind myself to stay patient and focused. My goal is to become a flight instructor for several years and see where that path takes me. I’ve never had a desire to work for an airline and would prefer to one day work in adventure tourism for various operators around the world on a seasonal basis.
Finish this sentence: “Leadership is…”
Working harder than your subordinates, leading by example
Last year, you participated in Give Hope Wings. Tell us about that experience and the organization.
Give Hope Wings is a fundraiser for a charity called Hope Air whose cause is to provide Canadians in financial need with free travel for medical care far from home. Last year, Give Hope Wings planned an expedition departing British Columbia, flying through the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and circumnavigating Alaska to spread awareness and raise funds for this worthy cause. I was lucky enough to be chosen as the recipient of the “Women Who Fly Award”, which was made possible by the generous donation of $50,000 by an anonymous donor. In total the expedition helped raise 250,000 dollars and was a great success. I’ve just joined the Hope Air team to assist in planning their 2021 expedition and am so excited about it.
How can pilots use aviation to give back to their communities?
Organizations like Hope Air and Angel Wings are a perfect example of how pilots can use aviation to give back to their communities. Pilot’s volunteer their time to fly those in need to their appointments in metropolitan cities. What a great way to combine your passion while helping others!
What are one to three books that greatly influenced your life?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
The Book by Alan Watts
“This is the real secret of life -- to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
Do you have a “favorite failure” that set you up for success later in your flying experience or life, in general?
I recently failed my Commercial written exam. In Canada you have to pass with a 60% in all four categories (Air law, Meteorology, Navigation, General Knowledge). I passed all of them except for General Knowledge. It’s never a nice feeling to fail at something but it shows strong character when you decide to rebuild as opposed to breakdown.
What message would you put on a billboard, next to the exit for a major international airport?
“Easy way out – next exit”
Just as a reminder that success takes time, commitment and is a long and winding road.
Thank you, Annie, for sharing your story and for inspiring so many others!
Connect with and follow Annie on Instagram @pilotannie and stay tuned for more great stories in our Women’s History Month series, "Pilots are Leaders."