Female RC Pilots

Written by Jennifer Lea Reynolds Sky's the Limit Column As seen in the June 2016 issue of Model Aviation.

When I tell people that I fly RC aircraft, it often generates a lot of interest. After all, it’s a unique hobby, not to mention one that has predominantly male participation. I chose to focus on female RC pilots for this month’s column. These talented ladies fly a range of aircraft and have varying levels of involvement.

Amy Philbrick

Amy Philbrick, from Tennessee, is no stranger to flying Giant Scale airplanes, including a Sig Manufacturing 1/2-scale Piper J-3 Cub that she turned into a Navy NE-1. She also has a Fairchild PT-19 and a Balsa USA Fokker Eindecker. She became involved in aeromodeling while dating her now-husband, Whitney, in the early 2000s. Upon discovering the wonder of flight at the Warbirds Over Delaware event, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s RC Jamboree, and the Connecticut Multi-Wing Fly-In, she became hooked. “I get nothing but respect at the events we have been to. It’s a hobby filled with great people,” Amy said.
Amy Philbrick, who enjoys flying her Eindecker, is wearing a T-shirt that reads, “Women Fly Too.” Photo by John W. Philbrick.

Amelia Arroyo

Another one who enjoys flying is 17-year-old Amelia Arroyo, a California resident who explained that her father named her after none other than Amelia Earhart. She grew up immersed in the hobby, having always been intrigued by her dad’s involvement in building rubber band-powered model airplanes. Although today she primarily flies nitro-powered aircraft ranging from World War II warbirds to aerobatic airplanes, Amelia said that she hasn’t left her love of rubber band-powered flight behind. She’s a participant on her school’s Science Olympiad team, where she’s been recognized for her rubber band-powered airplane building and flying abilities. “People are thrilled that I fly model aircraft,” she told me. “The reason I enjoy flying is because of how fun it is, as well as how the activity reminds me of my dad, whom I’m very close to.”
Amelia Arroyo is shown at a school competition. She enjoys rubber band-powered airplane building and flying. Photo by David Hasegawa.


Another woman whose love of flying has its ties to her father is Courtney, who lives in Florida. Courtney’s father passed away in 2010, but memories of him teaching her how to fly in the late 1970s lingered with her. “I wanted to do something to reconnect with some of the fun times we had together and immediately thought of RC planes,” she told me. She’s now an active participant in several events, clubs, and organizations, where she demonstrates her skills and abilities while representing numerous sponsors. Additionally, she is co-contest director of an RC helicopter event called the Port St. Lucie Smackdown, as well as various FPV races. Her passion for the hobby is remarkably clear. “The biggest compliment for me hasn’t been how awesome my flying is, or how cool that trick looked. It’s being told that I’ve inspired others, male and female, to get into RC and start flying,” Courtney said.
“It’s all about having fun, making new friends, being thankful for friends who have turned into family, and just flying your heart out,” said Courtney, shown here after her noon demonstration flight at the 2015 Orlando Heli Blowout. Photo by Jennifer Alderman.

Carol Ann Harklerode

At the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York, volunteer Carol Ann Harklerode enjoys Free Flight (FF) modeling. “I enjoy being crafty, and the simple and fun FF models are easy gateways that don’t require a huge investment of time and resources,” Carol Ann said. She likes the idea of setting something up and letting it go. “I have created something and now I get to set it free.” The first time she flew publicly was at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s Cole and Rita Palen Annual Memorial Free Flight Model Meet, an event she won with a Bill Hannan-designed Boxy Bipe airplane that she built.
Carol Ann Harklerode poses with her Bill Hannan-designed Boxy Bipe. Photo by Tom Polapink.

Jeanette Hibpshman

Jeanette Hibpshman has been flying for more than 23 years. She recalled the first 50cc airplane that she and her husband purchased: a Wild Hare RC Extra with a DA-50 engine. Several moves and three children later, she went on to discover the amazing flying at events such as Joe Nall Week at Triple Tree Aerodrome in Woodruff, South Carolina. While there, Jeanette said she was encouraged to become involved in competitive flying. With the support of her husband and several mentors, she became the first woman to compete in the US International Miniature Aerobatic Club (IMAC) Nats in Muncie, Indiana. “You just can’t describe what the competition scene is like until you’ve been there with those friends—they’re like family.” Jeanette said she’s “been blessed with some of the best sponsors in the hobby.” Jeanette has hosted an IMAC Bootcamp, has been a contest director at IMAC events, and was a judging instructor at a regional IMAC judging school event she presented. On top of all of this, Jeanette also became involved with RC jets, became a full-scale FAA Certified Ground Instructor and, as of this writing, is pursuing her full-scale Certified Flight Instructor certificate. She admits that people occasionally used to assume that only her husband flew, while she was there for support and to take care of their children. “I want to use my skills in the RC world and in full-scale to teach newcomers, both young and old, to chase that dream to fly,” she said. “I especially want to reach out to women in aviation. There aren’t enough of us.”
Jeanette Hibpshman is nothing but smiles at the IMAC Nats a few years ago. Photo courtesy of AMA and NatsNews.

Model Aviation’s Jennifer Alderman is also involved in aeromodeling. She has a Flyzone Sensei WISE system trainer airplane and a Blade 200 SR X helicopter. She enjoys being able to meet people from around the world while capturing the fun from behind the camera lens. She told me that as a female in a predominantly male hobby, she’s never experienced negativity. “I’ve never been treated differently—only encouraged—and when out at the flying field, we’re all one and the same and there for the enjoyment of the hobby.” I fly as well, mainly at my home field in New Hampshire. Like these woman, I enjoy the camaraderie that unfolds. Of course, having a good landing, especially when the wind shifts just as a darn mosquito lands on my ear, is a nice feeling, too. -Jennifer Lea Reynolds [email protected]

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This is something that I have longed to see for years!!! The only thing that I can say negative is, "there needs to be far more females involved". This article should have at least 50 times more female participants, minimum!!

Just wanted to mention that Jeanette Hibpshman earned her full scale instructor ticket several months ago and you can follow some of her student milestones on her Facebook page.

Women have been flying R/c for years. They are just now getting attention. I remember Nancy Rutherford flying F1 back in the 1990's. There was a young lady Jessica ? that raced too. I was sponsored by JR in the late 1990's. Just keep up bringing them to the forefront.

Women have been in Rc for years, they are just now getting the attention. I remember Nancy Rutherford flying F1 in the 1990, as well a young lady named Jessica flying F1 as well. I flew pylon also and was sponsored by Jr in the 1990. My daughter flew sport planes also. Just keep doing articles like this and hopefully more will join in.

I am amazed that by 2022 there are not more ladies in the hobby. My wife is like freak of nature at the clubs around us. I am happy that everyone seems to respect her as a good pilot.

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