Charlie Bravo CEO René Banglesdorf has worked as a woman in a male-dominated industry for decades. Now, her daughter is getting a taste. Brooke is in the midst of flight school at Genesis in Georgetown, Texas, and she’s seeing a side of aviation that not many women get to see.
According to Brooke, there isn’t any malicious behavior or offensive language being thrown her way, but a simple lack of respect that she’s noticed during her training thus far in a class that has only three women. Instead of being upset about it, Brooke is simply working that much harder.
“I don’t want to say this against men or anything like that, but men always tend to underestimate women,” Brooke said. “Y’all always do. You really do. I think that I have this knack inside me to study harder, because I kind of feel like, when people look at me, they’re like, ‘What are you doing here? This isn’t where you belong.’ That’s kind of how it feels. No one would ever say that to me. I think that they’re all happy for me and excited that someone young is learning how to fly, and I don’t think that being a woman is like, a big, big deal, but it definitely doesn’t feel like I have as much respect. It’s more like you kind of have to earn it, but everybody’s like that. I think with men it’s a tad bit more.”
Brooke said the other two women in her class have aviation in their blood, just like she does. Brooke’s own grandfather was a pilot, and her parents have been in the private aviation industry for decades.
In the early stages of pilot training, Brooke is paying close attention to the pilot checklists, and she still gets a good laugh at the “bird activity” warning that she receives seemingly every time she takes off.
“In the beginning of the checklist, you turn everything on, make sure the avionics fan is working, and you’re doing other things too, making sure the pitot tube heat’s coming on, all the way to checking the right wing and checking the fuel in the right wing, and the tires, and you check the lights and make sure there’s no dents from birds on the wing or anything like that,” she said. “Then check the left wing and check all the flight controls and the aileron, just everything on the airplane on the outside. Then you go on the inside of the airplane, and you double check everything on the inside. Then, after everything with the airplane, you call ATIS (automatic terminal information service) and you get your report for the day, so you get the weather. I think almost every time they say that there’s bird activity, which is funny. Then you get which runways are open, because you always want to land into the wind, and you take off with the wind at your back.”
In ground school, Brooke is learning everything from weather theory to how to handle emergency situations. During Hurricane Harvey, she found weather theory particularly interesting.
“There’s a big, giant lawyer book you have to read. It’s pretty intense,” she said. “Sometimes those classes are boring, but we also studied the weather, which was cool, with the hurricane. That was really interesting, because it was literally the night of the hurricane and we were studying the weather, then we did weather theory, and now it’s really weird, because I’ll be watching the weather channel and I’ll be like ‘I know what that is! I know what that is!’ It’s kind of weird and satisfying at the same time.”
At this point, Brooke isn’t exactly sure which route she wants to take for her future career path, be it commercial or private aviation, but she does know her heart strings have been tugged by the possibilities of flying for a non-profit organization.
“I mean really, honestly, the only true answer I can give right now, just because this is where I am in the beginning, is it’s really up to God,” she said regarding her future plans. “I heard about my mom’s friends from Montreal. Her late husband used to rescue kids from Africa, then ran into one of them in downtown Montreal. Hearing something like that, knowing that a pilot isn’t just somebody who flies rich people around, knowing that I could do something like that, doing something that truly is sacrificial and beautiful was one of the things that brought my heart more toward pilot school. Definitely, in your mind, you’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool,’ but I think hearing stories like that is what brought my heart into it. Once your heart gets a desire in it, it’s hard to put the fire out, you could say. Just hearing other stories like that is really cool.”
While flying for non-profit missions is what brought her heart into flight, Brooke understands she may not be able to go that route immediately. In the meantime, she’s up for just about anything.
“If God puts me in commercial and I’m doing private on the side, if I’m going and doing free volunteer rides for veterans, or for kids with autism or whatever it may be, I’m so down for it,” she said. “It’s just beautiful being up in the air and showing other people that experience, that freedom. Whatever I end up doing, whether it’s teaching or flying for a lot of money, because you can make a lot of money doing it, flying for some billionaire guy who works in Napa Valley, which would be a dream, because I like wine… that’s the only broad answer I can give.”
Brooke recently passed her physical, and is on track to take her first solo flight soon. Keep checking the Charlie Bravo blog for updates on Brooke’s progress!